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Three Fantastic Money-Saving Ways to Commemorate Earth Day!

Earth Day

Earth Day is an annual event that occurs on April 22 to demonstrate support of the environment. What began in 1970 has grown into a global affair to honor both the Earth and peace. As stewards of the planet, humans have the primary duty to look after the world that God created. Environmental responsibility of our earthly home calls us to conserve its valuable resources and protect the land, sea, and sky, as well as the life that grows and lives around us. Here are three incredibly easy ways to live life more sustainably in honor of Earth Day:

1) Donate gently used items. The Goodwill organization explains that the average U.S. citizen throws away 81 pounds of clothing every year. In addition, clothes and household textiles make up 6.3% of the waste stream in the USA. A primary goal of the organization is to stop the cycle of landfill waste with easy, eco-friendly choices. They encourage people to donate gently used items (like clothing and housewares and shoes) to Goodwill “…to keep them out of landfills and give them new life in the hands of others.” The trusted organization offers ‘pop and drop’ locations that follow social distancing safety guidelines. Be sure to get an acknowledgment (receipt) of your donations for tax purposes. Since the IRS requires donors to value their items, keep an itemized list of donations. Use the valuation guide for Goodwill donors, which provides estimated values to help guide you.

2) Conserve water – Per EPA.gov, a leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. They explain that it’s the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers! Per prior statistics from 2015, the EPA shared that at that time, each American used an average of 82 gallons of water a day at home. People wasting water is a big problem in the U.S., but it is not one without hope if we conserve. The EPA suggests using WaterSense labeled products designed to be highly effective yet water-efficient. They also state that the average family can save 13,000 gallons of water and $130 in water costs per year by replacing old, inefficient toilets with WaterSense models. Fixing household leaks, running the dishwasher and washer only when full, and turning off the tap while doing tasks such as teeth brushing or washing dishes can save tons of water and money. Outdoor water can be wasted by over-sprinkling and by poor landscape irrigation systems. The EPA states that if the average size lawn in the U.S. is watered for 20 minutes every day for seven days, it’s like running the shower for four days non-stop! A great way to solve that problem is to consider Xeriscape, a type of landscape design that uses low-water-use or drought-tolerant plants that require little to no supplemental irrigation and can dramatically lower your watering bill.  

3) Start a compost pile – Composting is a great way to reuse food scraps by turning them into decomposed organic material. The EPA states that food scraps and yard waste make up more than a whopping 30 percent of what we throw away. When we simply discard this type of waste, not only do we fill landfills, but we also create methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Composting is a wonderful way to minimize food waste from ending up in the trash. It requires browns such as dead leaves, branches, and twigs, greens like vegetable waste and grass clippings, and water for compost development. A good compost pile will have equal amounts of browns to greens, and the material should be alternated. The brown materials provide carbon, and the green materials provide nitrogen. With the water, together, they break down into organic matter. Composting is a money-saving idea because the organic material that is created can then be added to soil in a vegetable garden, acting as a valuable yet free, natural fertilizer to help other plants grow. Check the local recycling and composting resources of your state to see how you can help.

Earth Day is an event that should be celebrated year-round. While we can individually do our part, by acting together, we can create even greater positive and lasting impressions on the Earth while setting a healthy precedent for future generations to follow.

Please feel free to comment below and share creative ways we can be greener on Earth while saving some money and making the world a better place to live.

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Kim
4 months ago

In a wealthy country where we can buy anything we want, we have become complacent about where materials come from and what happens to them after we’ve finished with them. So much waste!

I enjoy take-out dinners now and then, but I tell the restaurant not to include plastic utensils. The containers are reused over and over again, either in the kitchen or under potted plants. When I’m on the road, I take utensils with me. Don’t get me started on the plastic bag debate. Simply put, I never take them; I use my totes instead…every time.

While most municipalities have recycling programs, very little of the plastic we dutifully place in the green bins is actually recycled. I’ve spoken with waste management personnel, where I learned that only about 10% of the chipped plastic is sold to companies that mold it into new products. Most of it ends up in the dump The only sensible solution is to use less plastic to begin with.

What we do with our properties has an enormous influence on sustainability. While the expansive well-manicured lawn has traditionally been the suburban standard, it’s time we took a different approach. (Check out Douglas Tallamy’s books.) Consider the food chain, which begins with the microscopic organisms inhabiting the soil. Those microbes break down organic matter into nutrients that plants need. (So, we must nurture the soil, too.) Those plants, in turn, feed insects, which birds and other animals feed on. And on and on, one link after another, until it reaches the “apex consumers”, humans.

In order to feed and to provide clean water for the growing numbers of people inhabiting this planet, we need to protect nature’s resources. How? Stop dumping chemicals and garbage into the ground and in storm drains. Use fewer chemicals in the gardens, and choose less harmful ones (such as Bt, biological or organic pesticides, horticultural oil) if you need to apply them at all. When we kill all the “bugs” eating our plants, we are denying the local bird populations with food they need to raise their young. That’s why most songbird populations are on a steep decline. I will make exceptions for my vegetable gardens, where I use Bt (a biological insecticide, not a chemical) on the brassicas. If I don’t, I’ll have no broccoli or kale to pick. As a horticulturist, I’m aware how to target a specific pest with the least harmful product that will do the job. Your local agricultural extension office can offer recommendations…and your tax dollars pay for it.

There are many beneficial insects that can work with us, as long as we don’t kill them first by spraying stuff wholesale around the garden. Tiny beneficial braconid wasps, for example, parasitize all the aphids in my garden. Ladybugs, green lacewings, and praying mantises eat huge numbers of insect pests. Birds, frogs, toads, and lizards consume their share. We need to adopt a new attitude toward nature instead of feeling as though we need to conquer it.

If you’re interested in keeping that food chain intact, consider letting some or most of the lawn revert to wild native species. Imagine the savings in terms of time, effort, and fuel (that carbon footprint!) if you let those acres in the back go wild. If that’s too “messy” for you, turn that space into gardens with trees, shrubs, perennials, and ground covers. Or start a meadow/wildflower garden. Including more native species and nativars will ensure healthy and sustainable populations of native insects and animals. More biodiversity is the point. That gives us better pollination for our fruit trees, native vegetation, and the farm crops on the edge of town…and more birds and butterflies to enjoy…one yard at a time.

We need to examine every aspect of our lives—how we manage our properties, what we consume, how we deal with our waste, how to insulate our homes, how we can consume less energy.

I know, I know, all this sounds contrary to the Republican platform, where we, as Americans, have the freedom to make those choices or not to. But is that kind? Is that compassionate? I’m asking you, for the sake of the future of humankind, please find a few ways you can contribute. It’s never too late to start!

Last edited 4 months ago by Kim
Jennifer Long
4 months ago

Don’t buy plastics! Use products in glass, aluminum cans, bpa reused drink mugs, wash an re-send ziplock bags, IF have a few make is brought to recycling! Re-usable bags!. See about a electric car, sunpanels, wind energy, contribute to MORE ways for battery recycling, especially with more battery powered engines cars on rise. Care for our Earth and earth takes care of us!! LOVE our Creator AND creation! ALL pitched in respect for nature! DO your part! If not already!

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