April 19, 2019
From its beginnings in 1970 when 20,000 Americans marched for the environment, “Earth Day,” now in its 49th year, has mushroomed into a worldwide movement. Now, nearly 200 nations dedicate each April 22nd to raising awareness of the need for environmental protection for the planet and sustainability of resources. As the effects of global warming have become more pronounced in recent years—and with scientists worldwide sounding the alarms about the need for fundamental changes in our behaviors, Earth Day is a greater reminder of our responsibilities than ever before.
The good news is that everyone can take positive steps toward environmental friendliness, a lowered carbon footprint, and a “greener” lifestyle. It’s not just the job of industry and big business, it starts with each of us. In observation of Earth Day 2019, here are a few things we can all begin doing today to protect the planet.
Take Steps to Become as “Paperless” as Possible
Perhaps easiest and most widely accepted is paper conservation. Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air and replace it with needed fresh oxygen. We can save trees and prevent the plundering of huge forests by reducing paper usage. Almost every bill or invoice can now be processed, sent and paid online—both bills you pay and bills you send. Also, by going paperless, you save the chemicals and energy needed for processing paper and printing it, as well as the fuel it takes to deliver a paper bill to our mailboxes.
Reduce Our Use of Plastics
Society is either not as mindful of plastics or unaware of the lasting damage plastic waste has on the planet’s environment. Plastic waste is one of Earth’s most significant pollutants, mainly because it is not biodegradable. The oceans are filling up with about nineteen million pounds of plastic per year. This waste not only presents a biohazard for sea life, but also making its way into the bodies of the fish that we eventually ingest.
We can help turn the tide by avoiding the use of disposable plastics whenever possible. If everyone avoided using plastic straws, cups, plates, bottles, and plastic bags a tremendous difference could be made in a short time. (Soon, NYC will be doing its part by outlawing plastic bags throughout the city.) One of the greatest challenges in this area is the exploding use of plastic in water bottles; water lovers should consider getting a water filter as an alternative to bottled water and other drinks.
When using plastic items, we should remember to put it in the recycle bin when finished, rather than throwing it in the trash.
Conserve Electricity at Home and at Work
If we can stand to turn the thermostat up a couple of degrees in summer—and down a couple of degrees in winter—we’ll not only save on energy bills, but we’ll be reducing the use of fossil fuels. Also, switching from incandescent to LED lights, turning lights off when leaving a room, and turning off electronics at the end of the day can make a huge cumulative difference.
Bike, Walk or Use Public Transportation
NYC is one of the few places in the nation where people don’t have to have a motor vehicle to get around. We can use this to our advantage by walking or biking short distances, and by using public transportation whenever possible to reduce our carbon footprint.
There’s plenty more we can all do to help the environment. Earthday.org has a list of 46 additional helpful tips, all of which are practical and fairly painless to implement. Check them out.
Obviously, each of us alone can’t save the planet by being environmentally conscious only one day a year—it must become a lifestyle for all of us. However, let’s allow Earth Day to renew our awareness of our planet’s greatest needs and renew our own resolve to do our part, in our daily lives and in the political sphere, to help advance the campaign for a healthier Earth.