The first Earth Day was held in the USA 47 years ago as a day to celebrate the planet and encourage people to be more environmentally friendly. Over the years it has become an annual event, and helped raise awareness about the planet’s health and our effect on it.
While many people work hard to live in an environmentally friendly way, the signs of climate change are clear. Rainforests are disappearing – about half of the world’s rainforests have now been cleared; animal species are going extinct – it is estimated that at least 10,000 species go extinct every year. In just the last 10 years the world has lost the Javan Tiger, the Japanese Sea Lion and the West African Black Rhinoceros. Oil spills continue to happen and our oceans are filling with plastic. Sea levels are rising faster than they have in the past. At the same time, special interest groups around the world are working to destroy environmental protection laws.
There is some good news, so don’t despair! The use of renewable energy sources is growing faster than anyone thought it would. And many of us have developed everyday habits that reduce our impact on our planet.
What can you do to reduce your environmental footprint?
There are a lot of little things you can do to reduce your personal environmental impact. They’re all good, but if you want to simplify your approach and make a big impact, focus on these three big things: Energy Use, Diet and Transportation.
Your personal use of energy is one of the largest parts of your environmental impact. It’s also one that’s pretty easy to control.
Three ways to reduce your energy use:
- Turn down your thermostat
– Turn your heat down at night and when you are away from home
– If you don’t already have one, install a programmable thermostat
- Choose energy efficient light bulbs
– LED bulbs use 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs (Energy Star) and last about 25 times longer.
- Use less hot water
– Take shorter showers
– Install an energy efficiency shower head
– Wash your clothes in cold water
Diet is a very personal matter. For many of us, what we eat is determined by culture, habit, tradition and what’s available and affordable. However, if you are willing to look at changes to your diet, you can reduce your impact on the planet.
- Eat less meat
- Consider adopting a vegetarian diet, or have a vegetarian day once or twice a week.
Many people need to drive on a daily basis – some for great distances. Going without a car may or may not be possible for you. Either way, there are ways you can reduce your carbon footprint when it comes to transportation.
- Take transit whenever possible
- Reduce your driving
- When purchasing a new vehicle, buy one with the best fuel economy you can find
This year Earth Day falls on Saturday, April 22 and our Mentors will be attending a variety of community events – check out our social media for more info!
Ranforest deforestation: http://rainforests.mongabay.com/0801.htm
Extinct animals: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_extinct_animals