This coming Thursday (April 22) marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. On the final year of the illustrious 1960’s, Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson proposed a national day be set aside to honor the Earth after several events had spurred a growing environmental concern. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the industrial runoff set ablaze in the Cuyahoga River, and a progressively growing movement of received public vocal opposition were among the various instigators that brought America into the arms of its first Earth Day. On April 22, 1970, Earth Day was initially born.
While 40 years have passed since our first celebrated Earth Day, our Earth doesn’t seem to be getting any cleaner. Rivers and lands are still polluted, fish are still overwhelmingly being found contaminated with mercury, and energy is still massively being wasted. While this coming Earth Day may not spawn the sit-ins, protests, and marches of the first Earth-honored day as many as four decades ago, it’s still vital that Americans come together and cherish the Earth, both on Thursday and on everyday from here on out.
In order to honor the upcoming 40th anniversary of this wonderful day that has been set aside to celebrate, cherish, and raise awareness of our beautiful, harmonious Mother, I will be dedicating the next few posts to simple ways YOU can make a difference all year long to help preserve and protect our Earth.
I’ll be kicking off this Earth-friendly series with a few tips on how to alter your electronic habits and behaviors that contribute to the degradation of the Earth.
- Let’s start simple. Take full advantage of natural sunlight when available. Try to refrain from flipping the light switch just because it’s there when the sun’s natural radiant energy is available.
- Once the sun goes to sleep and darkness comes, then you should go to sleep too. Just kidding. It’s a little unrealistic in today’s society to entirely match the schedule of the sun, but there are some changes you can make to help save both the environment and the money from your pocket when nighttime comes and darkness calls. Consider switching out your regular light bulbs for CFLs (compact fluorescent bulbs). While incandescent light bubs waste much of their energy from turning it into heat, CFLs are able to devote most of their energy towards creating light instead. CFLs consume approximately 75% less electricity, and will last ten times the amount of hours as regular bulbs (10,000 vs. 1,500). They’ll also save you around $80 per 75-watt incandescent bulb replaced over the lifetime of the CFL bulb.
Make your loads full:
- Next time you run the dishwasher, make sure it’s full. Running the dishwasher half empty is a waste of time, money, water, chemicals, and electricity. You’ll save 400 gallons of water per month by making sure the load is full. For an extra energy efficiency boost, look Energy Star-rated appliances, which use 25% less energy than the mandated minimum. rated appliances, which guarantee 25% less energy usage than the mandated minimum. While dishwashers do use a considerable amount of energy and water, don’t let them fool you into thinking hand-washing is a better option. When you keep the dishwasher running only when fully loaded, you can save 35% more water than hand-washing those dishes (not to mention, probably over 35% more time saved).
- The same goes for when you do a load of laundry: Make sure it’s full. The average family of four does 540 loads of laundry per year, requiring as much as 21,000 gallons of water. Much of the energy required for these loads goes towards heating up the water (90%), so do yourself a favor and wash your clothes with cold water. This will save you $100 or more annually. For an extra eco-friendly laundry boost, once again look for Energy Star machines, and choose laundry detergents that are biodegradable and phosphate-free. Traditional detergents leak out unhealthy chemicals onto your clothes and into the streams and soil around you. Also, once again, utilize the sun’s natural energy by hang drying your clothes, allowing them to soak up some Fresh-Air.
- All those old or broken electronics that you may have thrown into the dumpster end up leaking tons and tons of chemicals that they contain into the Earth. This hurts the soils, waters, and creatures that live in them. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans trashed 5.5 billion pounds of electronics in 2005. Instead of simply tossing your tarnished electronics into the trash, consider sending them to a place that will reuse and remodel them. More and more recycling drop-offs are popping up. Check out mygreenelectronics.org to search for recycling resource in your
- All those electronics that idly sit and remained plugged in 24/7 use energy, even when you aren’t using them. By unplugging devices that glow, you could save yourself as much as $200 per year. Consider unplugging your cell phone charger, TV, DVD player, computer, etc. before you go to bed at night. To make it easier on yourself, purchase a UL-certified power strip, which will allow you to plug everything into one area, also allowing you to turn all those various appliances off with just one flick of a switch. Additionally, make sure your kids’ video game consoles are shut off after they’re finished playing. This could allow you to generate an easy $100. Even better, unplug the video games all together for a period of time and have a little fun with your family by playing a hands-on, tangible board game during your free time instead: Priceless.
- I’m a huge advocate of taking some time each day to unplug yourself from technology and electronics in general! For at least an hour everyday, spend some time in nature, truly honoring and appreciating that naturally entertaining Earth of ours, the one kind of entertainment that won’t soak up a lot of energy and resources.