Earth Day 2016
April 22 is Earth Day! Worldwide, people will participate in activities to support a healthy, sustainable environment. Earth Day raises awareness of our planet as a living organism that needs and deserves our respect and love.
This year, let’s make Earth Day last all year. Let’s challenge ourselves to change the way we interact with Earth so we can look back on next Earth Day with pride and realize how much better we’re treating the planet (and ourselves).
Here are a few easy things you can do to turn every day into Earth Day:
- Eat local: Eating more locally grown food supports your local economy and reduces the amount of fuel it takes for your food to reach your plate. It’s usually fresher and often tastes better, too. There are many enjoyable ways to go local. A trip to the farmer’s market is fun for the whole family. So is growing a garden or learning to identify and prepare wild foods.
- Go nuts for veggie food: Switching to a vegetarian diet can reduce your carbon emissions by 50 percent more than trading in your gas guzzler for a Prius. But don’t feel you have to give up meat entirely. Even replacing some of the meat in your diet with healthy vegan options such as nuts, beans and sprouted tofu, or reducing your meat portion sizes and increasing the amount of fruits, veggies and whole grains you eat will make a difference. The trick is to start enjoying vegetarian options for the fun, flavorful foods they are. You’ll be amazed at how good they make you feel, too.
- BYOB: Still taking scads of bags each time you grocery shop? Next time you’re there, look for the reusable grocery totes most stores now offer, and toss a few in your cart. Use them to bring your groceries home, then stash them in your trunk for your next trip to the store. They are easy to use and to clean (just throw them in the washer), won’t break or tear when you pick them up full, and you’ll feel good each time you use them knowing you’re doing the right thing for Mother Earth.
- Switch to LED bulbs: Changing a light bulb? Easy peasy. Simply switching from incandescent bulbs to LEDs can reduce your carbon footprint by over six tons per year!
- Go solar: Don’t worry, you don’t have to have deep pockets. Chances are you can start using free energy from the sun without spending a penny. Drying your clothes in the sun and putting your desk by a sunny window to take advantage of daylight counts! From there, graduate to solar battery chargers or perhaps a solar oven. Or, go whole hog and invest in solar panels as an easy and financially responsible way to make every day Earth Day.
Everyone is at a different place on his/her green path. Don’t feel guilty about your starting point, but do take an honest assessment of your current behavior, then find ways to change. Easy does it. If you are new to being green, it’s better to choose small actions that you can maintain over time and feel good about. When you do, chances are that when Earth Day 2017 rolls around, you’ll look back and smile with pride at how much you have been able to contribute to making the planet — and your home — a better place to live.
Ryan McNeill is the president of Renewable Energy Corporation, one of the Mid-Atlantic’s largest residential solar energy companies — committed to installing quality, American-made solar panels, solar water heaters and solar attic fans.