Celebrating EARTH DAY 2012
by Tim Snyder
Some history buffs might argue that the environmental movement began in 1962 with the publication of “Silent Spring,” Rachel Carson’s bestselling book exposing the ecological hazards posed by pesticides and other chemicals. But environmentalism truly became a global issue 8 years later with the first-ever Earth Day demonstrations. This year, Earth Day (April 22) will be celebrated by a billion people around the world.
Earth Day stands alone as the only event to rise above the countless political, economic, religious and cultural allegiances that prevail around the world. Regardless of our ethnicity, sex, geographic location, economic status or religious affiliation, we all share a single planet. More than ever, this spinning orb needs our help to maintain clean air, potable water and healthy ecosystems. If you haven’t decided how make an Earth Day difference yet, here are a few actions to consider:
Get the light right.
The environmental impact of LED (light-emitting diode) technology is HUGE. If our country converted to LED lights, we’d cut electrical use for lighting by 33% and decrease annual greenhouse gas emissions by over 650 million tons. LED lights are still too expensive to totally replace incandescent and compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). But buying these lights incrementally is a good idea. Since an LED light can easily last for 25,000 hours, it provides many years of financial and environmental benefits. And unlike CFLs, LED lights contain no toxic mercury.
Schedule a home energy audit.
Comprehensive energy audits like those performed by Dr. Energy Saver provide you with a complete master plan for energy savings. This “whole-house” assessment includes specific recommendations on a wide range of energy-saving upgrades. You’ll also learn what upgrades to perform first, to ensure the best return on your “green” investment. Cutting your home’s energy consumption doesn’t just help the environment by reducing carbon emissions; it reduces your monthly utility costs.
Cut down on electricity-wasting “phantom loads.”
You don’t have to wait for an energy audit to stop wasting electricity because of phantom loads. Cut this unnecessary electricity use by COMPLETELY turning off computers, TVs, printers and battery chargers instead of allowing them to consume power in “sleep” mode.
Adopt a local cause.
With a little creative thinking, you can take on a challenge that promotes sustainability and environmental quality in your neighborhood. Here are a few ideas:
- Promote two-wheel travel. Drum up support for bicycle-friendly features like bike lanes, bike paths or bicycle stands.
- Jump-start backyard vegetable gardens. Ask your local hardware store to start a “grow your own” program by donating free seeds when people buy gardening supplies.
- Put plastic in its place. Enlist local businesses and citizens to stop using disposable plastic shopping bags that pollute oceans, kill wildlife and consume petroleum products.
- Start a green blog. Talk up environmental issues, preferably on a website (see Patch.com) devoted to local issues & events.
- Hit the trail. Taking more walks and hikes improves your health as well as your environmental awareness. Aim for an “Earth Day” frame of mind: gratitude for the great outdoors, and a desire to protect our incredible (and fragile) planet.