GO GREEN: The Importance of Earth DayGO GREEN:
By Tom Last
Earth Day was celebrated on April 22 this year, and so we should consider the importance of this special day. Earth Day teaches us to be grateful for the beauty of our planet and its amazing natural resources.
The first Earth Day was created by Senator Gaylord Nelson and celebrated in 1970. Senator Nelson was an environmentalist who wanted to raise awareness about environmental issues. During the first Earth Day, celebration rallies took place around the country with more than twenty million Americans demonstrating in different cities. One of the results of the first Earth Day movement was the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, in 1970.
As we reflect on the environment this Earth Day, the stakes seem higher than ever before as climate change disasters increase around the world and in our country. Recently, Fort Lauderdale was deluged with an estimated 26 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. Normal rainfall for the month is about four inches. Meteorologists classified the rain as a 1,000-year event; however, these epic rains and storms have occurred more frequently in the past decade.
In California, Tulare Lake has reappeared for the first time since 1997. Homes, streets, and farmland have been inundated due to a historically wet winter with increased runoff from several rivers, with more flooding expected over the new few months as the state’s record snowpack melts.
Here’s how you can join the Earth Day movement:
• Speak up! Talk to your friends and family, and make sure your government representatives are enacting new laws that limit carbon emissions and require corporations that pollute our land to pay the price to clean it up.
• Eliminate single use plastics – Use reusable water bottles and coffee mugs, replace plastic detergent jugs with laundry sheets, replace plastic toothbrushes with bamboo toothbrushes, eliminate straws or use paper or bamboo straws. Do research to find a greener alternative to anything plastic.
• Purchase energy efficient appliances – When shopping for refrigerators, washing machines, heat pump water heaters, and other appliances, look for the Energy Star label. It will tell you which appliances are the most energy efficient.
• Reduce water waste – Saving water reduces carbon pollution. So, take shorter showers, turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, and switch to WaterSense-labeled fixtures and appliances.
• Eat the food you buy and compost what you can’t – 10 percent of U.S. energy goes into growing, processing, packaging, and shipping food – about 40 percent of which winds up in the landfill. Food scraps and leftovers should be placed in a compost bin instead of sending them to a landfill where they emit methane gases.
• Buy better bulbs – Use LED light bulbs only. LED light bulbs use one-sixth the amount of energy compared to incandescent lights and last 10 times longer.
• Pull the plug – Audio and video devices, cordless vacuums and power tools, and other electronics use energy even when they’re not charging. So don’t leave fully charged devices plugged into your home outlets.
• Drive a fuel-efficient vehicle – Choose gas-smart cars, such as hybrids and fully electric vehicles to save fuel and money. Ensure your car tires are properly inflated and have a tune-up performed periodically. Even better, leave the car at home and walk and bike more. Use mass transit or car-pool whenever possible.
• Reduce, reuse, and recycle – Reducing your waste should be a priority. Become a minimalist and think before you buy. Reducing waste and limiting what goes into our landfills is a key to reducing greenhouse gases.
We are grateful to Senator Gaylord Nelson for establishing Earth Day to help remind us to be thankful for this beautiful Earth that we live on. The Senator started a movement that asks all of us to be environmental guardians of our planet. Let’s continue what Senator Nelson and others started decades ago and be proactive in our quest to make this a cleaner, more sustainable Earth.
Remember there is no Planet B!