On April 22nd, the world will celebrate Earth Day for 47th time. Earth Day has evolved into a globally celebrated event, with festivities occurring in more than 200 countries. In its simplest form, it’s a day for people to step back, take a deep breath and appreciate Earth in all its splendor. But for many people, Earth Day holds the potential to ignite broad environmental action.
So often when we are faced with what seems an insurmountable task, we tend to try to use any excuse to avoid dealing with it because we simply feel overwhelmed by it. We can’t imagine how what we do, alone, will actually matter. The fact is that this planet of ours is home to billions of individuals just like us, and every time one of us does something positive that is mimicked by one or two others things can and do snowball into meaningful change.
Rather than feeling like we need to solve the problems of the world, let’s start with each doing as little as one positive thing to help make our environment better. We have thousands of customers who frequent our store. If just 500 of them did one meaningful thing to celebrate Earth Day there indeed would be a noticeable impact on our local environment -- and that, in turn, will be added to what takes place in communities across the globe. We can stem the tide of abuse to our world, which is necessary for the survival of our civilization.
Here are a handful of easy to do activities which you can consider; perhaps make a family project out of working on a couple different initiatives, rather than trying to do everything at once.
Get a recyclable water bottle
I personally think that this one is so easy that anyone can do it. The US alone consumes 50 billion plastic water bottles annually. Most of these bottles are not recycled and end up in landfills, in oceans and elsewhere, which harms organisms and the environment. Just creating these bottles uses 17 million barrels of gasoline, which would be enough to power 1.3 million cars for a year. Even more energy is then spent transporting water bottles and then recycling them. Ending society’s addiction to unnecessary water bottles would be greatly appreciated by Earth.
Write your congressman and senator
We need to have a clear separation of politics and our environment. Regardless of our political affiliations we are all citizens of this one and only Planet Earth and we need to collectively take steps to remove politics from the equation and make protecting our planet a priority for all of Earth’s citizens. Contacting someone with the power to make large-scale change through legislation, like a senator or representative, can result in some pretty grand and lasting changes.
To find the name and contact information of your member of Congress, just go to the web site for your state or local government. You'll find both e-mail and mailing addresses, and you could even call if you don't have the time to write a letter. Just pick a cause -- water safety, forest preservation, clean air, recycling, whatever speaks to you -- and tell your congressman or congresswoman how you feel.
U.S. Representative Bill Foster of the 11th District of Illinois
2711 E New York Street Suite 204
Aurora, IL 6050 phone: (630)-585-7672
US Representative Randy Hultgren of the 14th District of Illinois
40W310 Lafox Road, #F2
Campton Hills, IL 60175 phone: (630) 584-2734
Senator Dick Durbin – Senior Senator from Illinois
711 Hart Senate Building
Washington, D.C. 20510 phone (202) 224.2152
Senator Tammy Duckworth – Junior Senator from Illinois
524 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 phone: (202) 224-2854
Earth is the ultimate recycler -- it reuses everything that it creates with a little help from the Sun. And everything that lives on the planet is cool with this system of recycling -- everything except humans.
Humans are the only things that willfully don’t recycle what they create and use. And that means that a lot of nourishing substances that would otherwise feed wildlife and help it flourish end up in landfills or on strips of asphalt or somewhere else. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Composting biodegradable food and materials is a great way to feed soil, organisms in the soil and plant life while reducing waste.
Keep the Car In The Garage
How about leaving the car at home and walking, cycling or using public transport even just for today? Perhaps it’s walking the kids to school instead of driving them, or you might opt to cycle to yoga. It may take you a little more time but you’ll get to enjoy the fresh air, teach the kids about nature on the way to school, or read a book on the train or bus. Who knows, you might enjoy it so much it becomes a regular thing!
Today’s the day to take the plunge and create a veggie patch. You’ll not only be eliminating the carbon emissions that are involved in getting produce to plate, you’ll also be able to enjoy fresh, organic produce whilst saving some money. If you find the idea of a veggie patch daunting or if you have limited outdoor space, you could start by planting some fresh herbs or a couple of lettuces in a bucket — or for a rustic look, an old wine barrel.
BYO Grocery Bags
If we all lived and had our store in Chicago this one would automatically jump to the top of the list more for economic reasons than anything else. Since the beginning of the year, Chicago shoppers are being charged 7¢ for each plastic bag that they receive at the check-out. It’s easy to see how this could cost a family of four an extra $35 to $50 a year just to bring home their groceries. How can one avoid this tax, or, as in our case, simply put less plastic in landfills? Bring your own bags to pack your groceries. Making the effort to put reusable shopping bags in your car could start a new habit that would reduce the use of plastic bags. To top it off, wouldn’t it be nice to eliminate the unsightly blemish of those tattered bags flapping in the wind as they get caught on our highways, fences and tree lines?
So, there you have it: half a dozen very easy to accomplish ways to help support Earth Day this year. Please pick one or two or all six, and let’s all do a little something to make our world a better place.