Earth Day

Monday, April 22, 2013

This is one of my favorite days to celebrate every year because there are always so many cool things going on. The great part is that it's not usually restricted to just Earth Day which, this year, falls on a Monday. During the entire month of April, there are tons of activities and festivals going on every weekend.

Last year to celebrate Earth Day, Mike and I made adorable little birdhouses to hang in the yard (seen above) and volunteered with the Back River Restoration Committee on one of their community clean-up events. The group works to restore the health of the Back River watershed. As it stands today, the Back River is one of the most polluted rivers in Maryland.  We, along with other teams of volunteers, collected trash along the highways and worked to pull out tires and other debris from the water. It was about an eight our day but they ended it with a great cookout. If there's one thing Mike and I love as much as helping the environment, it's free food!

Unfortunately, this year, we weren't able to find any volunteer opportunities around Earth Day with the BRRC. We checked out a few in Annapolis with other groups but soon found out we missed the cut off by about a month.

So instead, we have vowed to do some volunteer work this summer and also plant a tree in our yard when we move into our new house. I have been researching trees that are native to our region to find something nice to plant. Ever since my Ecology and Evolution class in college, I constantly think about those lectures on biodiversity when it comes to planting trees and other plants - Thanks Dr. M! I'm such a nerd.

A few years ago, it seemed like almost no one knew that Earth Day even existed. Only recently have the words "eco-friendly" and "green" become part of our vocabulary in society. It's so exciting and inspiring to see so many more people beginning to educate themselves and care more about how we treat the Earth. After all, it's our home. People should care. The environment gives us the air we breathe, the water we drink, the animals and plants we eat, and the sun that sustains it all. Those things are all pretty important if you ask me. It's easy to take them for granted and forget that without those things, we wouldn't be able to survive. With all of our technology and industry, it's hard to remember how humans started out. We continue to destroy the Earth in so many ways and somehow believe that it's not affected by what we do. We think it will always be there to provide for us. But the truth is, if we don't care for our environment, how can we expect it to take care of us?

In honor of Earth Day, I thought I would post a list of things you can do today and throughout the year to move toward a more environmentally concious lifestyle and also appreciate the Earth a little more!

1. Check your faucets. Leaks and slow drips can add up to gallons of wasted water per year, and if it's a hot water source, that can mean wasted fossil fuel too. So check out the faucets in your home to not only cut down on these wasted resources but also to save yourself some dough!

2. Take a Hike. Get off the couch, turn off the TV, put down your cell phone and get out the door! Whatever you enjoy, whether it's bike riding, hiking, kayaking, fishing, you name it, this is the time of year to do it!

3. Clean Green. Many household cleaning products contain nasty toxins that can not only hurt you and your family but also our ecosystem. Look for cleaning products that are more natural. I personally switched to vinegar and water and I will never look back. It's safe, very powerful, and incredibly cheap. If you need proof, read more about it out for yourself here and here.

4. Do Away with Paper Bills. Save a few trees by cutting down on paper and sign up for electronic bills. Most companies now offer an e-bill option that you can have emailed directly to you. Some companies will even offer an incentive for Paperless billing.

5. Get Rid of Hazardous Waste - the right way. Collect and dispose of your household hazardous waste like batteries, pesticides, and paint properly by bringing them to your local disposal center. We often forget that expired medications also fall into this category as well. Many people think it's okay to flush old pills down the toilet, but I am telling you now - THIS IS NOT OKAY! Reading the information from the EPA can provide more guidance on how to dispose of them properly.

6. Watch "Planet Earth." This is Mike's favorite series and I had actually never seen it before we started dating. It really is one of the most fascinating documentaries I've ever seen. The subtitle of the series is "prepare to see it as never before" and boy, are they right. Creatures and places I didn't even know existed and some that have never before been captured on film were shown in depth. It really was incredible.

7. Join a CSA or visit your local farmer's market. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a way for people in all areas, even urban, to have access to seasonal food directly from the farms in that community. It is a mutually beneficial relationship between the farmers and the consumers since the consumers support the farmers by bringing in local business, and the farmers support the community by providing local food. There will be more on this coming up in my blog throughout the year!

Happy Earth Day!

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