Today is Earth Day!
Founded in 1970 in the U.S. as a day of education about environmental issues, Earth Day is now a globally celebrated holiday. More than one billion people in 192 countries will observe the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day, according to the Earth Day Network.
Although Earth Day is a great reminder to be environmentally conscious, there are plenty of simple ways you can celebrate the earth all year long. Here are just 10 ways you can be eco-friendly long after Earth Day is over:
1. Plant a tree.
Planting a tree is perhaps the most common Earth Day activity, but you can plant a tree any day of the year. Trees produce oxygen and help reduce air pollution. A single tree can absorb 10 pounds of air pollutants a year, and produce nearly 260 pounds of oxygen, according to the nonprofit American Forests.
2. Recycle reusable materials.
The average person generates more than four pounds of trash every day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year, according to DoSomething.org. According to the nonprofit’s website, more than 75 percent of waste is recyclable, but only about 30 percent of it is recycled. Do your part by recycling glass, paper, plastic and other reusable materials at your local recycling centers.
3. Donate or recycle used electronics.
Electronic waste includes computers, cell phones, televisions and other electronic devices in working or non-working condition that are no longer used. About half of the states currently have laws on disposal and recycling of electronics and several other states are considering passing similar laws, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Working and non-working electronic devices may be acceptable for donation for reuse or repair. Many electronics manufacturers and retailers offer take-back programs or sponsor recycling events. Enumclaw Recyclers is also a good resource for residents looking to unload their excess devices.
4. Cut back on driving.
Use public transportation, organize a carpool, ride a bike or walk whenever possible. Leaving your car at home two days a week will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,600 pounds per year, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. It will also help you save money on gas and maintenance.
5. Reduce your energy use.
Reducing your energy use is good for the environment and can help you save money on your energy bill. Turn off or set office equipment to power down when they are not in use. Better yet, unplug electronics when you’re not using them. In the average home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Other ways to reduce your energy use include: taking advantage of natural daylight to reduce lighting; adjusting your thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer; using the dishwasher and washing machine only when they are full; washing clothes in cooler water; replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps; and investing in energy-efficient equipment.
6. Use reusable bags.
Each year, Americans throw away about 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags and about 10 billion paper bags, according to Earth911. Help reduce plastic and paper bag waste by using reusable bags.
7. Buy locally.
The average meal in the U.S. travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Buying locally can save fuel and keep money in your community. Click here to find a map of local and regional farms and produce sources.
8. Clean up the earth.
More than 51 billion pieces of litter land on U.S. roadways each year, and litter cleanup costs the nation almost $11.5 billion each year, according to the nonprofit Keep America Beautiful. Help keep the earth beautiful by participating in local cleanup events or organizing your own.
9. Explore the outdoors.
Get to know your community better and explore the beauty of nature. Go for a walk, run or hike with friends and family. Join or organize a walking or hiking group. Several Enumclaw Patch bloggers are great resources for the outdoors. Click here to read items by Mary Janosik and John Anderson. We've also got several timeless pieces by hiking columnist Karen Sykes.
10. Participate in eco-friendly activities.
Earth Day is April 22, but many people actively extend awareness for the environment throughout the year. For ideas on how to minimize your carbon footprint, visit act.earthday.org.