Today’s post is from Laurie Loftin, who plans to celebrate Earth Day in style.
Happy Earth Day! Have you thought about how you plan to celebrate? For an occasion such as this, I believe the best way to “celebrate” is to commit yourself to making one behavioral change you can carry out for the rest of the year. By the next Earth Day, this change is a habit and you will be ready to add another.
To make it easy, here are five suggestions for you to choose from. To keep it simple, all ideas fall into one focused category: Water. Yes, everyone talks about Going Green around Earth Day, but I think we should think about Being Blue. There is no green without blue.
1. Take the My Water Pledge: Visit mywaterpledge.com and take this pledge on behalf of Athens-Clarke County. The pledge offers many ideas for you to reduce your water use. Simply click on the selections you are doing or plan to do in the next year and hit submit. You will see how many gallons of water are saved by your changes. Want a chance to win a Prius? Then provide contact information at the end. You will be entered into a drawing if your city is the one with the most pledges by April 30. Hint, hint, you won’t be entered to win if Athens doesn’t reach #1. Encourage local friends to pledge, too, so Athens is the winning city!
2. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth: I ask school children to imagine this scenario: You go to the refrigerator and pull out two fresh gallons of milk. Next, carry them over to the sink and take off the top. Now pour these two jugs straight down the drain. At this point the students start yelling “no!” They insist they would never do this! It is a waste. Milk costs money. Their mom would be mad at them. I then point out that letting your water run while you brush your teeth can waste 2-4 gallons of water at each brushing. This is equal in size to at least two jugs of milk being poured down the drain. If you wouldn’t pour perfectly good milk down the drain, why would you allow perfectly good tap water to run down the drain? Which do you need more for your survival?
3. Kill your lawn: I realize this sounds like cruel and unusual punishment for your grass. After all, it is just sitting there. Doing nothing. I doubt you play on your lawn often. You don’t tend to it as if it was a food crop. In fact, the only time you probably put your lawn to good use is when you water or mow it. Why not save yourself from a Saturday morning date with a lawnmower and replace your grass with mulch and drought tolerant plants? Richard Restuccia gives you four easy ways to intentionally kill your lawn. I prefer the “smother it” method. If you need more incentive to kill your lawn, this video may help: Your Yard is Evil.
4. Become a Water Wise Waterer: If you don’t yet have the heart to try #3, then learn to make the most of your watering efforts. Water Use It Wisely offers great information on planning and designing your lawn, efficient irrigation, and appropriate maintenance. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, attach a rain or moisture sensor to shut off the system. These devices are especially helpful if you have travel plans and are unable to adjust your sprinkler for the recent rainfall. Remember, if you over water your lawn, you may end up accomplishing tip #3 after all.
5. Ban the Bag: We have all used a plastic shopping bag at some point in our life. The question is, what do you do with the bag after you bring it home? The EPA estimates that less than 5% of plastic grocery bags are recycled. The remaining bags have the potential to end up as plastic floating in our oceans. This Earth Day, make a commitment to reduce your use of plastic grocery bags. Carry reusable bags in your trunk and remember to bring them into the store with you. Ban the Bag UGA offers tips to remember your bags. If you forget your bags, don’t let store employees bag items like your milk jug. Always, always, always recycle any plastic bags you do acquire on your shopping adventures. And if you see a bag floating around in the wild, pick it up and place it in a recycle bin, even if it isn’t your bag. It is your Earth.
Unless you are the type who really likes to party and can handle your time wisely, go easy and pick one of these Earth Day celebratory changes to adopt. It is better to succeed at one than fail at all. Wishing you and your family for generations to come a Happy Earth Day!