As a Taurean, I feel a strong connection with the earth. I love to feel the rhythms of Nature, to watch as animals and plants go through their annual cycles. It makes sense that Earth Day is in the early Spring, during the time of birth and rebirth. Yesterday I saw a robin fit to bursting with eggs – she was VERY territorial. I imagine today she’s sitting on those eggs in her nest. I also noticed that the Queen Anne’s lace is aggressively pushing up in the flower beds – it’s a survivor weed, for sure.
Here are some fairly painless things you can do to honor Mother Earth every day.
- Switch out those lightbulbs and be vigilant about your electrical use! Using compact fluorescent bulbs is an easy way to save electricity. Some people say the light from cfls is too harsh. However, they come in all sorts of strengths, so there is one out there for you. Turn off lights when you leave the room. You don’t save electricity by leaving a lightbulb burning – that’s an urban myth. Unplug your cell charger and coffeepot if you’re not using them. Get a power strip for your computer and turn it off when you’re done with the computer. Hang your clothes on a clothes line. The less electricity we use, the less is generated and the less pollution from that generation. This is especially true in the US, where 70% of our electricity comes from coal and natural gas. Now that hydrofracking is a real and awful way to extract natural gas, we have to be especially vigilant in our use of electricity, because we are now polluting our water supply to feed our hunger for electricity. Another 20% of our electricity comes from nuclear, which is a whole other Pandora’s box.
- Compost your food scraps (not animal based scraps, though)! Even if you can’t have an actual compost bin with worms and everything, make a pile in the woods and cover it periodically with dead leaves and grass clippings. Put coffee grinds, egg shells and vegetable peels in your flower beds. The less that is discarded, the less goes into landfills.
- Reuse, reuse, reuse. Wash out the Ziploc bags that didn’t contain meat products and use them over again. Keep your takeout containers and use them to store EVERYTHING. Make cloth napkins from old clothing and stop buying paper ones. Use cloth kitchen towels instead of paper towels. Cut up junk mail and use it for scrap paper. (I keep a supply of this near the phone.) Stick used dryer sheets in your sock drawer or in the shoes of the stinky-footed people in your house. You can also use them to scrub the bugs off your car! Donate your used magazines to schools or libraries – art teachers LOVE old magazines. Donate clothing to a thrift shop or the Salvation Army so someone else can use it. Use that cute little tote bag from Bath and Body Works as a lunch bag until it falls apart. Then recycle it. Before you throw ANYTHING away, ask yourself if it has another use. Chances are, the answer is “yes”.
- Recycle, recycle, recycle. Everything. Plastic, paper, metals, cardboard, glass, motor oil, cell phones, computers and printers, plastic grocery bags, tires. They are ALL recyclable. Seek out the places where you can do this. Check with the Family & Consumer Science teacher at your local high school to see if they have any ongoing recycling projects.
- Trade in your car for a more fuel efficient one. I drive a Honda Fit. It averages 40 mpg. It replaced a van that got – max – 25 mpg. I didn’t really need a van anymore, because I sold my harp. It feels good to drive this little car.
- Buy recycled products. Get the recycled all-purpose printer paper. Buy recycled Reynolds aluminum foil. Get toilet paper and tissues made by Marcal or Seventh Generation. There are so many products made from recycled materials on the market these days, it only helps to buy them and increase the demand for recycled products. It puts less in the waste stream.
- READ LABELS on your cleaning products (including personal grooming products). Go with the ones that have little or no sulfates. Go with ones with biodegradable surfectants. Eliminate petroleum usage wherever you can. This is hard, because a HUGE amount of personal grooming and cleaning products contain petroleum in one form or another. Laundry soaps, shampoos, makeup, body washes, moisturizers, lip balms, all have petroleum bases. Find ones that don’t and use them. The less oil we use, the better.
- A little discomfort goes a long way. In the summer, use fans in your house instead of air conditioning. We have 3 super strong fans that circulate the air in our house and one up in the attic that sucks the hot air out of the attic. Close the windows and shades on the east and south sides of the house in the morning, then the south and west in the afternoon. Yes, you’ll sweat and eventually turn on the air conditioning, but every minute you can put it off is a gift to the earth. On super hot days, we go into the basement in our house. It’s underground, has a tile floor and is always at least 10 degrees cooler than upstairs. Don’t use the oven in the summer! Rely on your crockpot and toaster oven that use much less electricity and generate much less heat. If your house is well-insulated, it can be hard to get rid of the heat in the summer, especially when the temperature is above 80 for weeks at a time. Here in the Northeast, we open all the windows on breezy days and get the hot air out.