CELEBRATE EARTH DAY
Simple Lifestyle Changes that Help Protect the Earth
It's no secret that the environment is in danger and badly needs our help. The holes in the ozone layer are widening and the rates of skin cancer and other types of cancer are going up alarmingly. Air pollution alone is so bad that in many places people are frequently warned not to go outdoors on particularly bad days. A recent study by the American Medical Association recently confirmed that prolonged exposure to polluted air significantly raises your risk of lung cancer or other lung and heart diseases, and the American Lung Association recently reported that 142 million Americans are indeed breathing unhealthy air. And our drinking water is becoming so polluted by gasoline, pesticides, chemicals and toxic waste that our nation's drinking water in certain parts of this country isroutinely deemed undrinkable.
Much of this pollution to our environment has been caused by our own human impact. The good news is that we can also begin to reverse this damage, and protect the earth, our health and our natural resources. It is up to each one of us to take individual responsibility for our own habits and our own individual impact on the environment. There are lots of easy ways to begin to make green changes in your attitude and your lifestyle. Not only are these changes better for the earth and your health, but also often save you time, energy and money. Celebrate Earth Day this year (Earth Day is April 22nd) by reinforcing your commitment to the environment. The EcoMall offers the following tips which can help save the planet for ourselves and for our future:
- Household Tips: Reduce indoor air pollution by using non-toxic cleaners, solvents, pesticides and paints. According to the EPA, the levels of indoor air pollutants may be two to five times higher than outdoor levels. Buying natural household products not only protects our health, but also the earth - the toxins from the toxic chemicals in conventional products get into our environment from releases from manufacturing and disposal. Save money by creating your own homemade house cleaning products: mix 2 tsp vinegar and 5 cups of water as a non-toxic, earth-friendly glass cleaner, and mix baking soda and water to clean bathrooms, kitchens and ovens. Buy lots of plants. Not only do plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and clean your air, but they beautify your surroundings and reinforce your connection with nature, even in an urban setting. Cut down on pesticide use in your home, lawn and garden and opt instead for natural, organic pesticide products.
- Energy Efficient Home: Making sure your home is well insulated is one of the best ways to save energy (and money). Check for cracks or leaks near windows, doors and ceilings. Become energyaware: Turn down thermostats and turn off lights, stereo, computers, air conditioner, TV, when notin use. When your next bulb goes out, replace it with a compact fluorescent light bulb which lasts 10 times as long, and over its lifetime, uses 1/4 of the energy of an incandescent bulb and can cut $30-$40 off your electric bill. Consider solar products, such as installing solar panels to heat your home and hot water, or start small with solar lighting, which can light the walkway to your house. When replacing major appliances purchase energy efficient ones - look for the government's EnergyStar label.
- Water Conservation: Always make sure to turn off taps tightly, and fix water leaks right away: a dripping faucet can waste up to 1,000 gallons of water a year. Try to take shorter showers, anddon't run water continuously - turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, shaving and washing dishes (A running faucet puts 3-5 gallons of water down the drain every minute it's on). Wash onlyfull loads of laundry in your washing machine. Buy a water flow attachment for your sink faucets and showerheads to reduce wastage, such as a low flow showerhead and faucet aerator, which saves about 7,800 gallons of water annually in the average home.
- Eco Travel: Car pool, take mass transit, bike or walk to your destination. The growing number ofcars on the road pose an enormous threat to the environment. The burning of 200 million gallons ofgas results in the emission of about 4 billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - andthat's just one day's worth. Try to plan ahead and accomplish everything in one trip. Make sure your car gets good gas mileage. Support alternative fuel vehicles and electric transportation, which are much less polluting.
- Recycling: Almost anything can be recycled. If a recycling program is not available in your community, help start one. Recycle everything by setting up a mini recycling corner in your house where you separate your garbage for papers, plastics, cans, cardboard, and glass. You can also turn in many recyclable products for some nice extra cash. And be practical and creative in discovering further uses for things rather than just throwing them away. Also stop your junk mail, which has an environmental savings of up to 75% reduction in paper waste.
- Precycle: Complete the loop by buying recycled paper for home and office use for items such as toilet paper, tissue paper, paper towel, napkins, wrapping paper, etc. Look for tree-free paper alternatives like Kenaf, banana paper and hemp (did you know the original draft of the constitution was written on hemp paper?) Save paper, save trees. Most of the original forests in this country have already been cut down. Trees clean the air, and keep the climate in balance. Other tips: use both sides of a piece of paper, recycle and look for products in recycled packaging.
- Green Shopping: It is especially important to be an informed consumer and use your dollars to support companies and products which are better for the earth (and your health) for home and office. Here at the EcoMall we feature a wide arrange of environmentally-friendly companies in over 70 different shopping categories, but here are some of the most important products to buy green: Food shopping: buy organic produce whenever possible. The USDA recently passed National Organic Standards assuring that products labeled "certified organic" meet stricter criteria and are indeed organically-grown. Buying organic supports sustainable agriculture and avoids pesticides and chemical fertilizers that leave an unhealthy residue on foods, and pollute our land and water. Look for organic milks, which are free of the antibiotics and growth hormones used in non-organic milk - there is some speculation the hormones used in milk may be responsible for the early onset of puberty. Eco Fashion: Buy organic or hemp clothing - conventional cotton uses 25% of the world's pesticides. Hemp and organically-grown cotton clothing now come in fashionable styles for the whole family. Natural body: There is now an enormous selection of body care products using all-natural ingredients for products such as soaps, lotions and cosmetics with none of the synthetic, chemical ingredients in conventional body care products. Natural baby: Use cloth diapers instead of disposables - each year 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown into U.S. landfills. Buy organic baby food. Look for PVC-free toys.
Other general eco-shopping tips: Avoid single serving products and buy in bulk which uses less packaging and saves money. Try as a rule to avoid over- packaged products, as well as disposable (i.e. use replaceable razors, rechargeable batteries), which produce unnecessary garbage. When you're in the supermarket, ask for a paper bag rather than plastic, which take longer to break down in a landfill. Better yet, bring reusable bags to grocery stores, (e.g. backpack, cloth, canvas or rope mesh bag). Don't buy products in aerosol cans, which are both toxic and polluting.
- Invest responsibly: Use your investing dollars to support companies which implement environmentally and socially responsible business practices, and rid your portfolio of companies which are not.
- Vegetarianism: Cut down on meat consumption or consider becoming a vegetarian. Apart from the crucial considerations of health and respect for animal life, meat eating is both inefficient andwasteful of land, soil, water and energy. 16 pounds of grain and 2500 gallons of water must be fed to livestock to produce just one pound of meat on the table. In contrast, the land is capable of supplying food for nearly fourteen times as many people when it is used to grow food for people rather than crops to feed livestock. Not only does less meat demand and the use of land to grow food crops conserve our natural resources, but can help solve the growing world hunger crisis.
- Take Action: Consider joining an environmental organization, and keep informed and active on behalf of environmental causes. Here at the EcoMall we feature the latest environmental news, a comprehensive list of environmental non-profit organizations and other actions and ideas. On a local level, participate or organize a neighborhood clean-up, and encourage schools and your community to go green and incorporate and promote environmental awareness. Teach your children to appreciate and care for the Earth.
Also see our other Earth Day features for more ideas:
- This Year Make Earth Day A Family Affair: Tips On Getting Kids Excited About Greening Our Planet Earth
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