#1: Form A Water-Conserving Habit This Month
Each day in the United States, we use an average of 100 gallons of water per person, making our water usage about twice that of people in Europe (who use an average of 50 gallons per person per day). This Earth Day, make a commitment (individually or as a family) to become a better steward of the earth’s water. Pick one of the ideas below or check out the Water Use It Wisely or Environmental Protection Agency websites for more ideas.
- Shorten your shower by one or two minutes. This can save up to 150 gallons per month.
- Install a water-efficient shower head. Doing so can save up to 750 gallons of water a month.
- Only run the dishwasher (or do laundry) when you have a full load.
- Sweep sidewalks, porches and driveways instead of hosing them down. A hose puts out around 10 gallons of water a minute.
- Turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth. (The average faucet flows at a rate of 2 gallons of water per minute.)
- Check your toilet for leaks. (One way to do this is to put food coloring in the tank and see if it leaks into the toilet bowl without flushing). Fixing a leak can save up to 1,000 gallons of water a month.
#2: Reconnect with Nature
When was the last time you went for a hike in a forest, visited your local park or even walked around your neighborhood looking at the flowers? Earth Day is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with nature. Here are a couple of ideas:
- Go for a walk in the park. Is there is a National or State Park close to where you live? (If not, there may still be a local park near you.) Check out the trails with a friend or family member. Be sure to bring water, and also look up park information and policies before you go.
- Stop and smell the flowers. Spend a couple hours in the botanical gardens or in another garden in your area that is open to the public. You may also be able see a lot of flowers simply by walking around your neighborhood.
- Exercise outside.1 Use your local bike trail or park instead of the gym when walking, running or biking. Or substitute an outdoor activity like hiking or canoeing for one of your workouts.
#3: Reduce Your Ecological Footprint
Our daily actions and choices have an impact on the environment. In other words, we leave “footprints.” The term “Ecological Footprint” refers to how much of the biological capacity of the planet is required by a given human activity or population. Our Ecological Footprint is calculated by taking into consideration all of the biological materials that we consume, and all of the wastes that we generate, in a year. Here are a couple ideas for ways we can reduce our Ecological Footprint:
- Assess your current impact. Find out how many planet earths we’d need if everyone lived like you by using the Earth Day Network Ecological Footprint Calculator or the Center for Sustainable Economy’s Ecological Footprint quiz.
- Drive less. When going short distances (for instance to visit friends in the area, or running errands), see if you can walk or bike instead of taking the car.
- When it’s time to replace or upgrade an appliance, choose an energy-efficient replacement.
- Unplug electronic devices when you aren’t using them (a power strip may make this easier).
- Recycle! Paper, glass, aluminum and many types of plastics can all be recycled. If you’re replacing home furnishings, clothing, or electronic equipment that is still in good condition, donate the “old” item instead of throwing it out. Buying products made from recycled materials (or secondhand instead of new) also helps reduce our impact on the earth.
#4. Help Children See Nature’s Beauty
It is important to teach our children about the environment and our impact on it and to help them form good habits based on the principles of good stewardship. But it is also important to help them see how beautiful and good God’s creation really is. That way, they can see the positive side to caring for the earth and her resources.
If we constantly talk about the negatives - about pollution, deforestation and climate change, we run the risk of implanting the idea that the situation is too overwhelming, that it can’t be fixed. As some of us may know from personal experience, the feeling of being overwhelmed often leads to inaction rather than action. Instilling an appreciation of the earth’s beauty in our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, etc. can help them develop a lifelong relationship with nature. So let’s try to give them the gift of memories of spotting local birds and other animals on nature walks, of discovering a waterfall on a hike, of seeing breathtaking views from the top of a mountain or in the desert, of swimming in the ocean or canoeing on a river. Later, when they are facing the environmental challenges of their generation, these experiences may help them be able focus on something positive (i.e. preserving the earth’s beauty) rather than just something negative (i.e. pollution). This healthier perspective can help keep all of us from feeling overwhelmed, making it a little easier to take the steps we can take to be part of the solution.
1. Check with a qualified health professional before beginning a new exercise program. Be aware of your limits.