Earth Day came and went with nary an acknowledgement from me. I woke up today, realized that I missed it entirely, and felt a wee bit guilty. For about a minute.
It’s not that I’m not interested in saving the Earth or conserving resources. It’s not that I don’t want to “go green.” It’s that I reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as I can already — why should Earth Day be any different? It’s becoming a bit like Valentine’s Day, in some ways, but with CFLs instead of cards and candies. It feels like we’re encouraged to do all sorts of little things to mark the occasion, and then we’re in the clear to go back to our wasteful ways for the rest of the year.
If you really want to celebrate Earth Day, celebrate it every day, all year long, by changing your basic habits. Fix things instead of throwing them away — and if they must be thrown out, recycle what you can first. Compost your food scraps instead of encasing them in plastic and leaving them for the landfill. Plan a garden — and then actually plant it and use the hyper-local produce you grow. (Confession: I kill plants. I have even neglected a cactus to death. So my husband tends the garden, and I pick and can the goods.) No room for a garden? Set out a few pots on the patio, and grow just enough tomatoes for summer salads.
Here are a few other ideas:
1.) Fill up your fridge and freezer. A full refrigerator is more efficient. If you don’t have the time (or the inclination) to buy in bulk, reuse plastic containers by filling them with water and freezing them to take up space.
2.) Run your dishwasher and your washing machine only when completely full. You’ll save water, electricity, and effort.
3.) Water the plants, clear the air. If you have a green thumb, consider keeping plants like azaleas, gerbera daisies, rubber plants, and English Ivy around the house — they absorb some of the chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde, and ammonia that off-gas from carpets and upholstery. Care2.com has a great list of 10 houseplants that can help.
4.) Turn off your computer at night. It’s tempting to leave your computer on 24/7, and I can come up with a myriad of excuses why I want to do it (it takes so long to boot up from scratch! The kids want to use it all the time! I keep forgetting!) but the truth is, you can shave quite a bit from your electric bill just by turning the thing off.
5.) Keep reusable shopping bags in the car. I used to forget to bring my shopping bags with me to the grocery store until I started keeping them in the trunk — then, I’d just forget to bring them inside the store with me. So now I ask one of my kids to hold them, or I put them on the front passenger seat if I happen to be running errands kid-free (Hah! Not likely!).
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