Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's Easy Being Green

Earth Day was first recognized on this day in 1970 due in large part to the efforts of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin who was becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of legislation regulating environmental issues. Hence, this gave birth to the environmental movement when on the very first Earth Day 20 million people gathered on American streets and in communities to protest the way industry was degrading the earth. The movement has only been growing since and has become a global initiative with countries around the globe joining in the environmental effort. Schools and community groups often organize events and hold week long celebrations and educational campaigns in order to increase awareness about the environment.  Global examples include China, a country so renowned for its air pollution that the U.S. Embassy in Beijing issues daily air quality alerts. On Earth Day 2012, 100,000 people rode bicycles instead of driving in an effort to save fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Or Afghanistan, where in 2011 28 million trees were planted by the Earth Day Network. In Panama, 100 endangered species of orchids were planted and maintained in order to prevent their extinction. The list of projects and initiatives goes on and on.

Earth Day might only come once a year but you can easily practice green initiatives every day of the year. Here are some simple things you and your family can do to help our environment.

  • Practice recycling in your own home. In many European countries it is mandatory. Refuse and recyclables must be placed specially bags but bags that hold recyclables cost mere pennies compared to the cost of the general refuse bags. In our house Sidney takes a leading roll in sorting what item goes into each recycling bin and is quick to point out when one of his parents accidentally places the wrong item in our blue recycling bin. 
  • You can bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store. Here in Belgium the major grocery chains don't even provide you with any plastic bags at the checkout. Instead, you are expected to bring your own bags or  buy reusable large totes from the store. 
  • And speaking of the store, when running errands, combine your trips or better yet, walk or bicycle to your destination. You will not only save on gas and reduce carbon dioxide emissions but the exercise is good for you too. 
  • Go plant a tree. One city we lived in used to give away free trees to residents each Earth Day. Glenn and I took advantage of this offer one year picking up three small (OK very small) red maple saplings that we planted in our front yard. 
  • You can eat local. By supporting local farmers you are not only helping the local economy you are eating fresher foods because they haven't been shipped half way around the world to your dinner table. This also reduces energy costs, lowers carbon dioxide emissions, and the food generally tastes better.
  • Participate in, or better yet, organize a community clean up. Clean your streets, neighborhood park or waterway. When we lived in Albania our family participated in a beach clean up that removed tons of waste and debris from a nearby shoreline. Our efforts only put a small, temporary dent into the beach but as with most efforts, they start small before picking up momentum.
The earth and the environment effect all of us regardless of where we live, our socio-economic status, our political affiliations, or our religious beliefs. Because of this we owe it to ourselves, our families, communities, and our world to do our part to keep it green and make it a better place for all of us to call home. So this Earth Day please do your part to improve your own little corner of the world. Whatever you decide to do, no effort is too small.  Happy Earth Day!

1 comment:

  1. In my local supermarket we have to pay for each plastic bag and the till operator scowls at you for not bringing your own bags... it works for me ;)
    I've just started growing little bits of food on my balcony - I'm sure that helps too :)