hands painted like globe
Home Sweet Home. The Earth is our home. It belongs to all of us. How do we want our home to be? What delights of the natural world matter to us? During April each year, Earth Day celebrations are held throughout our area. It’s a great time to consider what we value about our planet, Earth, and what we want our children and grandchildren to inherit.
I recently went online to assess my carbon footprint. At www.consumerconsequences.org I learned that it would take roughly 4.6 planets if everyone on Earth today lived the way I do. Clearly, as the world’s population continues to grow, and as more people around the globe want to drive cars and adopt a western diet and material lifestyle, something will have to change. It’s been said that if we can all choose to make small changes now, maybe we can avoid being forced to make more difficult changes later.
Consider this: according to the U.S. Department of Energy, world oil production is being surpassed by oil consumption. Still, developing countries are expanding their economies and will compete with us for fossil fuels. It’s amazing how oil-dependent we are. It can be overwhelming to think about, yet each of us can make a positive difference, and all of those little differences can create new habits throughout our culture. While we save Earth, we can save ourselves.
Many families are already doing something to help Mother Earth. From recycling to buying locally at Farmers’ Markets, from driving fuel efficient cars to using stainless steel reusable water bottles, almost all of us are becoming more aware that the choices we make will affect our environment.
Here are some more ideas for celebrating Earth Day all year long. Maybe you are already doing some ot these. Each month, have your family look the list over and try something new way. Take baby steps, and find out what works for your family. Just as saving our coins can add up to hundreds of dollars over time, so can saving small amounts of energy and natural resources add up to a healthier Earth.
1. Change your light bulbs to compact fluorescents if you haven’t already done so. Next challenge your family by reducing your electric bill turning off lights in empty rooms, unplugging unused appliances and using power strips.
2. Be car free one day a week for a month. It’s a great way to have some family time, to catch up with things around the house, and to rest. (imagine that!)
3. Be screen free one day a week for a month.
4. Use up what’s in the fridge, freezer, and pantry to make sure it doesn’t all spoil and end up in the garbage.
5. Plant a native tree or a fruit tree, or plant herbs or vegetables in containers. For advice in planting an edible landscape attend the Collier Fruit Growers meetings. See www.collierfruit.org for more information.
6. Lower your water consumption. Harvest rain water with homemade rain barrels using 55 gallon food-grade drums. With six of them you can harvest about 300 gallons of water to be used in our vegetable, fruit, and flower gardens that surround your home.
7. Plant an edible landscape – attend the Collier Fruit Growers meetings for advice. See www.collierfruit.org for more information.
8. Give green gifts, such as plants, fruits, trees, and organic products.
9. Donate usables rather than filling the landfill, and buy you need or want from a thrift or consignment store.
10. Buy family members a stainless steel water bottle and nix bottled water
11. Have a staycation this year. Put your money into our local economy.
12. Enjoy a natural wonder, visit local or national parks.
13. Learn the names of the trees and plants in your neighborhood.
14. Go to the beach and learn about the shells, tides, and water creatures
15. Get to know your neighbors.
16. Buy products with less or no packaging. Some ways to do this are by growing and sharing your own produce, shopping at farmers’ markets, and finding other local sources of goods.
17. Avoid disposable plates, cups, towels, and napkins. Replace with cloth or recycled products.
18. Stop junk mail.
19. Cut back on pesticides and fertilizers on your lawn by using best growing practices and native plants.
20. Help your congregation become a “green sanctuary.”
21. Have an energy audit and follow the recommendations. Go to www.FPL.com to learn more.
22. Be outside together – look at the morning and evening skies, play catch, or take a walk.
23. Carpool at least twice this month, and save more car miles by walking, bicycling, or using public transportation.
24. Just for fun, take a bus ride if you’ve never been on the local transit system.
Kathleen McElroy, Part-time Instructor of Biology at Kennesaw State University is concerned that we are constantly being bombarded by the media to go green. “Is too much diluting the real message?” she asks. “Here is the message: Everything is interconnected. We share the air, land, and water with all other living things. Use natural resources with care – and they will take care of you.”