The month of April celebrates two significant environmental events, Earth Day and Arbor Day. With spring in full bloom, the Earth reawakening after its long, cold slumber, it’s the perfect time to get in touch with and reevaluate the human connection with the planet.
It’s a connection often taken for granted. An ever-evolving society and the need to cut down on time, is generating more waste than ever before. Though many communities across the United States have comprehensive recycling and waste management programs, the population still generates a huge amount of waste. That waste comes from everything from coffee grinds or single-serve brewers, to the plastic bags used to hold produce at grocery stores.
To help combat waste and lack of government regulations on businesses to protect the environment, Earth Day was created. It started in 1970 when a large group of Americans—20 million to be precise—began initiatives to change the interactions with our planet. Over the past 46 years, it has grown to a global event, celebrated every April 22, by over one billion participants striving to create awareness about conservation efforts.
Similarly, in the northern hemisphere, Arbor Day takes place in April to celebrate and promote the protection of trees. It was first celebrated in 1872 in Nebraska and its popularity continued to grow over the centuries, until ultimately, in 1970, President Richard Nixon declared that the last Friday in April would henceforth be considered Arbor Day. The event is similarly celebrated around the globe, though on different days, with the hope of planting an abundance of trees. This year’s event will take place on April 29.
Whether or not you participate in these celebrations, April is a good time to think about decreasing personal and household carbon footprints. A green lifestyle can often be mistaken for something that involves a great deal of time and energy. Environmentally-friendly individuals need not wander around in hemp or strictly stick with a vegan lifestyle. Simply adding in a few easy changes can have a measurable impact on the planet.
Ways to go green:
- Swap Styrofoam and paper coffee cups for stainless steal or plastic reusables.
- Skip the bottle and drink from the tap. For those looking for filtered water, try a filtration system like Brita, or a water bottle with a built-in filter.
- Simply unplug. When a phone, laptop or tablet finishes charging, unplug the charger from the wall. Same goes for video game systems and TVs—if you have extras you just don’t use often, unplug them.
- Unsubscribe or go paperless. Mailbox clogged with unwanted catalogs or unread newspapers? Unsubscribe or switch to a digital subscription. Try apps like PaperKarma or visit DMAchoice.org for information on unsubscribing.
- Think before printing.
- Use reusable bags. Swap plastic grocery bags for sturdier canvas bags, or even try insulated bags like those available at Trader Joe’s. Store one in the car for last minute errands.
- Reduce water use. Try taking a shorter shower, don’t leave the tap running while brushing teeth, and turn the water on only when wetting and rinsing dishes.
- Buy family size. Instead of pre-packaged snacks, like potato chips or candy, buy those same items in bulk and pour the same portion into a small washable container.
- Replace windows or drapery with more high-efficiency ones.
- Donate gently used goods. Clothing and furniture can easily be donated to places like Good Will, the Salvation Army, Purple Heart or Habitat for Humanity. Some will even pick up large goods like furniture.
- Reduce food waste. Shop more frequently, plan meals in advance and avoid impulse purchases.
- Recycle. It is incredibly easy since most communities have comprehensive recycling programs. Check township guidelines for specific recyclable materials.
4.5 billion years since Earth was formed
7.1 billion people populate the planet
17 million acres in Pennsylvania are covered in forest
18 percent of Pennsylvania’s electricity must be renewable by 2021
4.3 pounds of waste generated by the average person each day
22 percent of methane emissions in the U.S. in 2008 were caused by waste in landfills
1.51 pounds of each person’s waste was recycled in 2013
200 million tons of garbage is generated in the U.S. each year
25 billion non-biodegradable coffee cups are thrown away each year
$165 billion of food each year is thrown away in the U.S.