As today marks Earth Day, it always makes me reflect on the world I want to live in. I want to live in a world free from sexism, misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ageism, animal cruelty, hunger, poverty, pollution and war. Not too much to ask, right?? When we imagine a better world, it can seem too daunting and insurmountable to ever achieve that dream. But it’s a step, the first of many towards actualizing change.
Senator Gaylord Nelson, who founded Earth Day in 1970, had a vision for a better world too. Spurred to action after a detrimental oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1969, he was inspired by the student-led anti-war movement. “He realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.” Senator Nelson wanted to teach the media about the environment so he organized a series of events. Across the country, millions of people rallied to protest the degradation of the environment. 40 years later, almost every country around the globe celebrates and honors the planet on April 22nd.
To all my fierce feminist readers out there, there’s a new global initiative, Women and the Green Economy (WAGE), that looks at the impact women can have in making the economy green and combating climate change. Earth Day Network (EDN) created WAGE because:
- Women constitute more than half of the world’s population
- Women make 85 percent of all consumer choices
- Women are rising to key positions of power
- Women can lead the way to a sustainable green economy
According to EDN’s website:
“Our goal is to create a policy agenda for Rio+20 [the UN Conference on sustainability] and generate relevant national initiatives that will promote the green economy, secure educational and job training opportunities for women and channel green investment to benefit women…the WAGE Campaign intends to create a road map for women to aggregate their power and promote their leadership in creating a sustainable green economy and mitigating climate change.”
Want to know what you can do right now to make a difference and help the planet?? It’s as easy as turning off lights when you leave a room or replacing plastic bags with reusable tote bags when you go grocery shopping. Check out my 10 easy eco-friendly tips for 2010. And here are 10 more easy eco-tips to help you get your green on:
- Leave your car at home. Instead of driving a gas guzzling car all the time, (yes, even if you have a hybrid you still use gasoline), walk, bike or take public transit. “Leaving your car at home just 2 days a week will save 1,590 lbs. of greenhouse gas emissions each year.” Not only will your body and your wallet thank you, so will Mother Earth.
- Buy organic locally and seasonally. Along with buying more organic produce without toxic chemicals, it’s important to buy seasonal produce from local farms. Not only is it a boon to your local economy, it saves on waste emitted by transporting goods. When you have a craving for blueberries in the middle of the winter and you live in say Boston (like me!), those berries have to be transported from thousands of miles away, straining the environment.
- Replace your old incandescent light bulbs with new energy-saving ones. Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) use about 75% less energy and last 10 times as long so they reduce waste and lower your electric bill.
- Wash your laundry in cold water. Washing and rinsing with cold water only uses the energy to run the machine, rather than the double whammy of that plus heating up the water (which accounts for 90% of your machine’s energy), which will also save you money. Also, make sure to wash only full loads so as not to waste water. Washing full loads can “save more than 3,400 gallons of water a year.” If you can, go one step further and replace your old appliances with more efficient Energy Star ones. Of course apartment dwellers like me will just have to deal with the laundromat around the corner…boo.
- Kick your plastic water bottle habit. Ditch the chemical laden, landfill filling plastic bottles. When you’re on the go, use reusable BPA-free bottles like Sigg or the foldable Vapur bottles (I use these on vacation and they’re AMAZING!). Water filters are pretty fab too.
- Fix leaky water faucets in your home. By stopping leaky faucets, you could “save 2,700 gallons of water a year.” Wow!
- Donate to an ecological charity. You can donate your time or money to help an organization like National Geographic Society, World Wildlife Fund or Greenpeace make the world a little greener.
- Take quick showers. Taking a 10-minute shower instead of a luxuriating bath will save about 5 gallons of water.
- Eat more vegetarian and vegan meals. Yes, I’m cheating a bit as this tip was in my 10 eco tips last year. But it’s such an easy thing to do and one that’s of course close to my heart. 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef and 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef. You don’t have to give up your food lifestyle; just incorporate more dairy- and meat-free entrees. Cutting out meat just one day a week, like on Meat-Free Mondays, eliminates your meat consumption by 15% which can have a positive impact on your health and the environment.
- Contact your legislator. Urge them to support environmentally friendly policies.
Globally, governments must enact policies to support green technologies and jobs, reduce waste and pollution, and protect habitats. But each of us plays a role too. Want to see just how much your lifestyle impacts the environment? Take the ecological footprint quiz to find out. We can make the world a better place. This is the only planet we’ve got; it’s time we started treating her right.