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10 ways to honor the Earth in 2016

April 23rd, 2016 at 05:40 am

Technically, I believe Earth Day was yesterday, but many towns are celebrating today.

There's so much you can do to keep the planet we live on healthy. How many of these are you doing? This list is oriented toward other homeowners; I am sure if you rent you could come up with your own lists just as easily.

1. Pick up litter. Each year my town has Lose the Litter day where volunteers fan out across town and pick up litter on their own streets or on assigned streets. Organizers hide special gold soda cans with free movie or restaurant tickets hidden inside.

Litter is a blight and shows disrespect. As a vegan, I believe my body is a temple; in the same way, I feel the Earth is our home and should be treated with respect.

I've picked up litter for years, tho not always during the town-sponsored Lose the Litter days. I must admit to getting out of the habit in recent years, but i do still pick up things I think could hurt wildlife, such as broken glass or deflated balloons that can be mistaken for worms by birds.

2. Recycle. When I stop to think about all we recycle these days, it's a lot. But so much more needs to be done. Debris floating around in the ocean and choking marine life is in itself a terrible thing.

In my town, I recycle cardboard, clean, dry paper packaging, copy paper, newspapers, magazines, junk mail, plastic food containers, metal food containers, glass, plastic garden nursery pots, coat hangers, kitchen "organics," meaning food waste, clothing (via GoodWill) and shoes/sneakers, when I learn of a drive going on, household hazardous wastes. My town also recycles mattresses, used motor oil and large bulky metals like refrigerators.

IMO there's an urgent need to find a way to recycle Styrofoam and soft plastic bags.

3. Drive an energy-efficient car. I think I'm on my 5th Honda now; the next one will be a Prius. If you're lucky enough to live in a urban area where you don't need a personal car, even better. Here in suburban Connecticut, mass transit is sorely lacking.

Low gas prices are definitely not here to stay. Even though they're low now, I still try to consolidate trips whenever possible.

4. Here's a controversial one: Consider having just one child. Let's face it, the Earth is over-populated. If you consider how many resources it takes to raise just one individual, and how many resources that one individual will consume in their lifetime, just think how much impact choosing to have one child instead of 2 or 3 could have on the planet.

5. If you can afford the upfront costs, which have dropped considerably, put solar panels on your roof.

6. Make sure you have adequate insulation, especially in the roof, where most heat escapes.

7. Use a timer for your lighting, furnace and hot water heater, none of which need to be on 24/7.

8. Consider leaving a portion of your assets to worthy environmental groups in your will, and donate during your lifetime.

9. Use electric or cordless outdoor landscaping equipment. These days, battery or electric lawnmowers, trimmers, edges and blowers are readily available. Who wants to mess with dirty, noisy gas-powered equipment and have to store flammable liquids in their garage? The neighbors will thank you each weekend when they get to enjoy their outdoor barbecue without the roar of your mower in their ears.

10. If you have children, spend quality outdoor time with them so they come to love the solitude of a walk in the woods, understand the wonder that comes from watching a dragonfly flit above a meadow or a box turtle plunk into a pond. The more time kids spend glued to their iphones, ipads or iwhatnots, the less they'll connect with nature, and the less inclined they'll be to protect it.

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