earth day 2010

by Stacy

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. (Also, happy birthday wishes to Tom and Luke, among others!)

earth day ducklings

Yep, a napping pile of baby ducklings. I am totally going there.

Things I think are good about Earth Day: increased awareness about environmental issues, events organized around river clean ups and such. Things I think are bad about Earth Day: only one day, used as a marketing ploy to encourage people to “buy green.”

Instead of buying something green for Earth Day, try doing something green. It’s more green to re-use an item than to buy a new “eco-friendly” version. It’s more green to reduce use of plastic bottles in the first place instead of just recycling the 24-pack and calling it a day. Reduce, Re-use, and Recycle should be considered in that order.

My awesome friend, James, linked to the top five green-washed gimmicks for Earth Day.

As I was updating another post, I noticed that half of this one had vanished. Huh. So I rewrote the list which may have changed slightly.

Here are a few Earth Day ideas that will cost little or nothing:

  • Actually use your re-usable bags. Seriously, you have some by now. If not, I bet a friend or relative has an extra that they would give you. Don’t intend grab them on your way out and forget them — either make it a habit to grab them every day when you leave for work and store them in your car, or put them inconveniently on the doorknob so you remember to take them if you’re walking or biking to the store. Today we used them at Target and the grocery store — each of whom gave us a nickel off our purchase.
  • Bring your own beverage container. Another ubiquitous gift item is the reusable water bottle or travel mug. Fill it up and avoid the plastic ones. Most coffee shops will give you a break if you provide your own mug, too.
  • Compost. We spent $5 on a 30-gallon plastic storage tub for our patio compost bin. It reduces your trash — a friend of ours now shares trash pickup with a neighbor and saves money every week. You also don’t have to take out the smelly kitchen trash as often which saves you effort and garbage bags.
  • Turn out the lights when you leave the room. This is addressed to my darling spouse.
  • Plant something. If it’s a potted herb, a flower to cheer you up, or a cactus that you won’t kill if you forget to water it, plants clean the air and brighten up your home or office.
  • Save your jars and food containers. My mom has been using five-quart ice cream pails as flour bins for as long as I can remember. Clean peanut butter jars can store bulk grains or nuts, and hard-to-recycle #5 plastic yogurt cups can sprout seeds or be re-used as food storage.

None of that seems so bad, does it? Small steps are better than no steps!

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