Okay, so I know my blog home page says that the purpose of “Friday Feature” is to introduce you, my devoted reader, to women age 40 and beyond who have made course changes in their life. While this week’s feature may not be human, Mother Earth is definitely referred to as a woman and she is definitely well past 40 years old. But her life’s course changes haven’t come about because of something she has done. Rather, the destiny of this lovely lady has been totally at the hands of her billions and billions of residents. What better time than Friday, April 22, 2011–Earth Day— to focus our attention and our efforts on helping out with this wonderful planet we call home.
Earth Day was founded in the United States on April 22, 1970 as an effort to “inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment.” In 1990, this observance went international and today, there are organized events in 141 nations. The United Nations, in 2009, designated April 22 as “International Mother Earth Day.”
For me, my realization of “Earth Day” occurred on April 22, 1999, when our family was on vacation at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. On that day, our itinerary took us to Epcot Center which just happened to be observing a huge Earth Day celebration like only Disney can do. When we entered the park, we were each given an Epcot Earth Day button to wear (I have held on to mine and still have it today). Throughout the park there were demonstrations, parades, and activities for all the guests to enjoy. Up until then, to tell you the truth, I had never really paid attention to Earth Day. But after our wonderful day at Epcot and taking part in all of the festivities, I have never forgotten.
Using the letter “R,” cute little adjectives have been developed to represent the different areas where each of us can make a difference:
Reuse- Giving objects more than one go around. Best ways to reuse? Passing down or sharing clothes with younger siblings, friend’s kids, or Thrift Stores. Making something out of something intended for something else. Cleaning out food packaging and using it over again. Finding different uses for ordinary things.
Recycle- This is probably the easiest thing we can all do given that most of our cities supply us with recycling trash bins. The most common items to be recycled include paper, aluminum cans, and plastic bottles. Simply make a habit of separating your recyclables from your regular trash. If you do this one step, your refuse company will take care of the rest. Last weekend, I went to an Earth Day Fair and our city’s refuse company had sponsored one of the booths. They were giving out samples of items made from all the stuff disposed of in the recycle trash bins. The giveaways included pens, pencils, note pads, rulers, plant containers, and ground covering chips. Amazing.
One way I got my kids to participate in our family’s recycling was to have them keep out the soda cans and water bottles from the regular trash day recycling and put them in a separate trash bag. When the bags were full, all of us would take the bags to a recycling center and get instant cash for the bottles and cans. Then, we would use that money exclusively to go and buy a special treat like Slurpees or Baskin-Robbins. My kids loved recycle days!!!
Restore- Profitable for all the d0-it-your-selfers out there. Bringing new life to furniture, cabinets, toys –anything that can be rebuilt to its former self.
Replenish- Replacing what you took away. Sort of the “pay it forward” principle of ecology.
Reduce- To conscientiously use less for yourself so that there is more in the earth to give.
Last fall, I read how much waste there was regarding the clothing industry. After all, innumerable resources are used to make and sell clothing all over the world. Because retailers tell consumers that they got to have the latest style or trend, buyers keep on buying all kinds of clothing whether they need it or not. This was true for me. Some mornings, when I went into my packed closet, trying to figure out what I was going to wear, I would look at the crammed space and say to myself, “I have nothing to wear today.” Pathetic but true. I decided to put an end to all this nonsense by reducing my clothing intake and help the earth at the same time. Beginning September 1, I made a pact that I would not buy any clothing for myself for one entire year. I would just make due with whatever I had in my closet. That may not be a big deal for you, but for me, it was a huge sacrifice because I love to shop and I love to buy new clothes. Buying clothes was probably the biggest single line item of my personal budget. But I didn’t care. In my own little way, I was going to help reduce clothing consumption in the world.
At first, it was like any other bad habit. I went through withdrawals and had to stay clear of stores and boutiques so as to not fall into temptation. It only took a few weeks however to get past the buying urges where I could walk right down the clothing aisle without feeling the need to stop and browse. I am happy to report, that as of today, I am still keeping my word and have not bought any new clothing for the past seven months. I really feel accomplished that I have been able to stick to my goal and I see no reason why I won’t make it to September.
You don’t have to be a “nature nut” or spend a whole lot of effort to help preserve our beautiful planet. Any little attempt you make will make a difference, not only for today, but especially for our grandchildren’s future. What are you doing to observe your own Earth Day?