by Michele McKay

It is no surprise that the United States is the leading consumer society in the world. Most Americans have become accustomed to living by the motto, “Out with the old, and in with the new.” But wastefulness definitely takes a toll on the health of the earth, as well as the health of its inhabitants. So, we invite you to celebrate Earth Day with Down to Earth by taking action to reduce waste, reduce water and energy consumption, and help protect our planet. Curbing Waste: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle The United States produces half of the world’s garbage, but has only 6 percent of the world’s population. We can make improvements by using the three R’s:

Reduce

  • Bring your own bags to the store.
  • Buy food in bulk, not individual servings.
  • Put leftovers and bag lunches in reusable containers.
  • Cut back on fast-food meals – they pollute more than your arteries!
  • Use mugs rather than styrofoam cups for hot drinks.
  • Use cloth towels and napkins, washable utensils, etc.
  • Get off junk mail lists – 100 million trees are cut each year for junk mail. Contact the Direct Marketing Assn: https://dmachoice.thedma.org/

Reuse

  • Buy reusable personal and household items.
  • Shop for second hand clothing, furniture, and other items.
  • Donate used goods to charities, day-care centers, or thrift shops.

Recycle

  • Take newspapers, cardboard, bottles, cans, and plastic containers to recycling drop-off locations.
  • Get a nickel back for deposit bottles and cans at statewide redemption centers.

Saving Energy

  • When you leave a room, turn out the lights.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescents.
  • Turn the A/C down or off, clean filters regularly, and use a fan to keep cool.
  • Keep computer and TV time to a minimum.
  • Keep the fridge door open for as short a time as possible.
  • Cut down on driving – carpool, walk, bike, or take public transportation.
  • Consider a gas-electric hybrid when making your next vehicle purchase.

Cutting Water Use

  • Take shorter showers and install water-saving showerheads.
  • Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth or shaving.
  • Fix dripping faucets and silent toilet leaks.
  • Fill a gallon plastic bottle with water and place it in the toilet tank – this can save 5,000 gallons of water a year!
  • Only run the dishwasher when it is full.
  • Landscape with drought-tolerant plants, use mulch, and adjust sprinklers.

Making Eco-friendly Choices

  • Go veggie! A vegetarian diet is one of the single best ways to help the planet.
  • Support locally grown, organic products.
  • Use non-toxic cleaners – avoid products containing phosphates and chlorine.
  • Dispose of hazardous waste properly – this includes motor oil, coolant, transmission fluid, paint products, insecticides, and herbicides.
  • Don’t use poisonous pesticides and herbicides – choose natural alternatives.
  • Spay and neuter pets – one female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 kittens in only 7 years.
  • Invest in socially and environmentally responsible mutual funds or companies.
  • Learn about the ecosystems in your area to help make informed decisions.