5 simple ways to celebrate Earth Day
Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22, but really, shouldn't every day be Earth Day? If you want to leave the planet a little better for future generations, here are a few quick and painless ways to live a little greener:
Ditch the plastic water bottles
Americans use about 50 billion — that's billion with a B — plastic bottles every year. Whether it's water or soda or juice, all those drinks add up. According to Ban the Bottle, only about 23 percent of those get recycled, which means 38 billion bottles wind up in landfills.
Solution: Adding a water filter pitcher helps eliminate a bunch of plastic bottles. You can also add a Nalgene or stainless steel reusable water bottle to your rotation. It will also wind up saving you money in the long run.
Cut down your junk mail
The Harvard Law School's Green Living Representatives reported that each year, Americans receive 100 million trees' worth of junk mail. Do you really need another credit card offer or a flyer to replace your windows?
Solution: There are a few resources you can use to stem the flow.
• If you go to this web site (www.optoutprescreen.com) or call 888-5-OPTOUT, you can get your name and address removed from mailing lists circulated by the main consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).
• Whenever you get an unwanted catalog in the mail, make sure to call their customer service line and get removed from their mailing list. And then recycle that catalog instead of throwing it away.
• There are also web sites, like dmachoice.org, that will, for a small fee, remove your name from a bunch of direct marketers.
Plant a tree
You don't have to wait until Arbor Day to plant a tree. Autumn is usually the best time to plant, but trees can go in the ground now, too.
Trees help to improve our air quality by producing oxygen, and they store carbon, which can help offset byproducts of fossil-fuel burning. Depending on where they're planted near your home or office, they can reduce your air-conditioning expenses.
Smallfootprintfamily.com makes a case for planting more trees in this article: "What you may not know is that trees also build soil and help soak up stormwater before it can create a flood, and they offer energy-saving shade that reduces global warming and creates habitat for thousands of different species."
Start a garden
You want your family to eat healthy foods, and what better way is to know everything about the source of those foods? Planting right in your backyard, you'll know everything about those fruits and vegetables.
It will lower your grocery bill, too. A packet of seeds is around $2 and should provide enough of that vegetable for the whole season.
Growing veggies in your backyard also cuts down on "food miles," the distance they travel from the farm to your table. The transportation, cleaning and storage of those all adds up, and that can be practically eliminated by growing a garden.
Update your light bulbs
LED light bulbs are the most cost-efficient, producing far more light per watt than either incandescent or CFL bulbs. In other words, they use far less energy, so your power bill will go down.
They last longer, with quality bulbs holding a lifespan of 25,000 hours.
So as old bulbs burn out, make sure to swap out the old ones with LED bulbs.
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See also, Houseplants 101: How To Make Them Thrive.