April 21, 2009

Earth Day 2009

We will celebrate the 39th Earth Day on April 22, 2009. We are seeing climate change and protection of our natural resources take a bigger presence on the political agenda. Whether you subscribe that climate change is the direct result of human behavior or global warming is a natural phenomenon, to secure a sustainable future for generations to come, we need to focus on how our individual actions affect the quality of our water, air, and soil. (Image courtesy of Earth Day Network)

Many people are aware of how to take corrective action to diminish their impact on the environment, but all of us can benefit from the following suggestions provided by Earthday.gov:
  • As a result of the mortgage crisis and tight credit markets, many people are opting to remodel their homes rather than purchase a new one. When purchasing appliances, use the ENERGY STAR program to find energy efficient products for your home. The right choices can save families about 30 percent ($700 a year) while reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases. In addition, purchase high-efficient plumbing fixtures and appliances;
  • Turn off appliances and lights when you leave the room. This may seem obvious, but too many of us (myself included) leave on the lights after leaving a room;
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFL), which will save about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in about six months. CFLs use 75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb. As a result of popularity of CFLs, many cheaper, but inefficient bulbs have found their way onto the shelves of our local stores. These "knock-offs" have a short lifespan and may carry higher amounts of mercury. Therefore, it is very important to replace your light bulbs with an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL and please remember to properly recycle your old CFLs;
  • Practice the three R's (reduce/reuse/recycle): first reduce how much you use, then reuse what you can, and then recycle the rest. Then, dispose of what's left in the most environmentally friendly way;
  • Recycle Electronics (eCycling): According to the Consumer Electronics Association's (CEA) April 2008 Market Research Report: Trends in CE Reuse, Recycle and Removal, Americans own approximately 24 electronic products per household;
  • Look for the WaterSense label to identify water-efficient products and programs. The WaterSense label indicates that these products and programs meet water-efficiency and performance criteria. WaterSense labeled products will perform well, help save money, and encourage innovation in manufacturing;
  • Sweep outside instead of using a hose. I am amazed by the number of street-level retail and restaurant businesses I see washing rather than sweeping their sidewalks;
  • Start a carpool, walk, bike, or use mass transportation instead of driving. Better still, telecommute. According to CommuterChoice.com, 23.6 million employees work part-time from home during the workweek; and
  • In an office, purchase recycled content, remanufactured, and recyclable office products instead of disposable supplies, and recycle them when appropriate. At a minimum, buy recycled paper and recycle it again. Setup an area to store and exchange reusable office supplies such as binders and folders. Visit the EPA for Businesses and Non-Profits website for additional information.

Earth Day Network (EDN), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization whose "mission is to broaden and diversify the environmental movement worldwide, and to mobilize it as the most effective vehicle for promoting a healthy, sustainable environment," provides a wide selection of interesting and relevant content on its website at http://www.earthday.net. Be sure to visit EDN's Earth Day In A Box and Earth Day TV.

Earth Day is an annual event for people around the world to understand and appreciate our natural resources, and to renew our commitment to building a safer, healthier and cleaner world for all of us. There are many ways you can get involved including changing a habit, volunteering, attending a festival, or lobbying your elected officials on environmental legislation. Please feel free to share how you will make a difference.

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