April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as hopeless.
~ Theodore Roosevelt
In celebration of Earth Day, here are 10 facts about why we should make an effort to care for our planet:
  • The U.S is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year. This means that 5% of the world’s people generate 40% of the world’s waste.
  • About 80% of what Americans throw away is recyclable, yet our recycling rate is just 28%.
  • Plastic bags create pollution and kill wildlife in the USA every day of the year.
  • If just 25% of U.S. families used 10 fewer plastic bags a month, we would save over 2.5 BILLION bags a year.
  • One ton of carbon dioxide that is released in the air can be prevented by replacing every 75 watt light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs.
  • Recycling just one aluminum can save enough energy to run a TV for three hours — or the equivalent of a half a gallon of gasoline.
  • If we recycled all of the newspapers printed in the U.S. on a typical Sunday, we would save 550,000 trees--or about 26 million trees per year.
  • On the average, the 140 million cars in America are estimated to travel almost 4 billion miles in a day, and according to the Department of Transportation, they use over 200 million gallons of gasoline doing it.
  • Americans are exposed to 70,000 chemicals, some 90% of which have never been subjected to adequate testing to determine their impact on our health.
  • Over 40% of all tropical forests have been destroyed and another acre is lost each second.

You can do very simple things to be green in celebration of Earth Day and every day! Here are a few green tips. (If I can do these things, anyone can!)

1. Recycle. We get the local paper daily. I make sure that after we have read the paper that it goes into the recycle bin along with plastic bottles and any alumnium cans we have. Many food packages are also recyclable (e.g., cereal boxes and plastic containers), so I am also trying to be better at recycling these food packaging too.

2. Use re-usable shopping bags. I make sure to always keep my re-usable bags in the trunk of my car plus some extra bags so I don't forget them when I go grocery shopping.

3. Use green cleaning recipes. Many cleaners contain a lot of chemicals that are not good for us or our environment. I have been transitioning all our cleaning products to be green. There are many green recipes on the web. Basically all you need is baking soda, vinegar, and castile soap. Good for you and the environment, plus it good for your wallet by saving you money.

(I previously wrote about a green fabric softener recipe. I gave it a try but I found that the baking soda didn't always mix very nicely with the vinegar. I used the rest of the batch I had but now I am using just plain vinegar in my rinse cycle. This actually is much easier to deal with and works out great.)

4. Go paperless. Save trees by paying your bills online and signing up for paperless statements. I signed up to recieve paperless statements for all my bills and I have been using online billpay with my bank for years. All my fears about going paperless were unnecessary. Paperless has been great, less paper clutter and very easy.

Here are more good online resources with great green tips:
Earth Share
Environmental Protection Agency
National Geographic The Green Guide
Planet Green
Tree Hugger

Photo Source: Microsoft iStock

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