Today is Earth Day. After 45 years of marking the date, there is now more reason to pause for a day, think about what ails our planet and what we can do to solve its problems, many of which are of our own making.
A totally consumerist lifestyle is no longer acceptable. Materialism has become obscene, given the shortages we are experiencing and the damage to our environment. Rich or poor, everyone is responsible for the threats to the planet’s and our own survival.
Everyone must help to save the only home we have. One person can make a difference. The water or electricity we conserve will not only reduce our bills; together with similar actions by other people, this will add up to significant reductions in consumption.
The website Rustle the Leaf by Poncé and Wright suggests 10 simple things we can all do to help keep the Earth healthy:
1) Slow the flow.
A faucet leaking just one drop per second wastes over 1,300 gallons per year. A leak from a hot water source wastes both water and fossil fuel, creating more greenhouse gasses.
2) Think green when you clean.
Cleaning products that contain chlorine or petroleum distillates expose your family to toxins and end up in the ecosystem. Nontoxic, naturally derived cleaning products have been proven effective and will not cause long-term damage to the Earth.
3) Choose both sides.
Every year, pulp mills release over one trillion gallons of chlorine-tainted water as part of the paper-making process. Using the other side of the paper can cut that pollution almost in half! Choose recycled paper, especially processed, chlorine-free recycled paper.
4) Green your machine.
Americans waste over 700 million gallons of gasoline each year just because tires are not properly inflated. Millions more are wasted because vehicles are not properly tuned up. Keeping the machine running “green” will save money and reduce emissions.
5) Meatless for dinner
Once a week, plan a meat alternative for dinner. Reducing meat consumption conserves fresh water, saves topsoil and even reduces air pollution.
6) Walk, hike, ride a bike.
If people in the United States would occasionally ride a bike for a short errand instead of drive a car, over 70 million gallons of fuel could be saved each year. And there is the added benefit of enjoying the fresh air and exercise. For short errands, take a hike! (Unfortunately, in Metro Manila, unless you bike inside university campuses in Diliman or the Quezon Memorial Circle and a few other places, there is no fresh air to enjoy. The air is so polluted you put yourself at risk of developing a respiratory illness).
7) Plant a tree every Earth Day.
Over a 50-year lifetime, a tree generates $31,250 worth of oxygen, provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control, recycles $37,500 worth of water and controls $31,250 worth of soil erosion. It also provides shade that keeps homes and cities cooler.
8) Give weeds a “hand.”
Using herbicides is not the only way to control weeds; it is also not environment-friendly. With a good pair of gloves and garden tools, remove weeds by hand. Choose natural alternatives to pesticides for getting rid of pests.
9) Lighten your energy bill.
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) last 10 times longer than regular bulbs, use only one-fourth the energy and produce 90 percent less heat while producing more light per watt. An even better option is an LED (light emitting diode) bulb, which produces more light per watt but lesser heat and lasts much longer. The price of an LED bulb has dropped significantly, making it a practical alternative.
10) Reduce, reuse, recycle.
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