"The Earth is what we all have in common." -Wendell Berry
Posted April 22, 2014 in Living Sustainably
Last week, NRDC hosted a table at the Time Warner Center’s Earth Day expo, where staff took turns manning the table in one hour shifts. During my shift, a father with twin 9 year-old sons approached the table. The boys were intrigued by our “Stop Climate Change” bracelets. The conversation that ensued went as follows:
Dad (to sons): “Do you guys know what climate change is?”
Sons 1& 2 (in unison): “YES. It’s BAD.”
(One boy started to wander off, but the other stuck around and continued to talk climate change.)
Son 1: “I know all about how the climate is changing. And adults aren’t doing very much about it. And HEY adults control everything, so it’s their fault.”
NRDC employees at table: “And this planet is going to be yours soon, isn’t it?”
Son 1: “YES. So I am trying to tell adults that they should change things because they won’t let me do anything about it. I am not the one in control!!!”
After this, the young boy realized his brother had wandered off, so he, too, wandered away.
The honesty and bluntness of children can be both refreshing and terrifying. Hearing this young boy talk like this was a stark reminder that we need to act fast if we’re going to change anything for future generations. It’s not enough to have Earth Day once per year. The “Earth Day” phenomenon needs to become a way of life—a conscious way of living in which one slightly alters every day activities to create a truly monumental change on a larger scale. Thus, in honor of this year’s Earth Day, here are 5 simple earth-friendly options for your everyday life, not just your Earth Day life
1. Eat less meat, or simply, smaller portions of meat.
Meat’s relation to climate change has been in the news a lot lately. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has stated that our diets, specifically the meat in them, cause more greenhouse gases to spew into the atmosphere than either transportation or industry. The Environmental Working Group found that if you eat one less burger per week, it’s equivalent to taking your car off the road for 320 miles, or line-drying your clothes half the time.
2. Unplug, shut-down and turn-off.
At first, it may be hard to remember, but it is crucial to unplug phone and laptop chargers while they’re not connected to their respective devices. These chargers will be sucking energy out of the wall, even while unconnected to your phone or computer. Remember to also set computers to sleep or hibernate when not in use. Lastly, (and we’re all guilty of this once in a while), turn off those lights when you leave a room. These small steps can add up to a huge difference.
3. Bring your own bags to the store.
Several American cities such as San Francisco, Austin and Portland already have bans or taxes on plastic bags. A lightweight plastic bag consumes about 4.5 times more energy in its manufacturing processes than reusable bags. According to the EPA, between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed each year, and each bag is used for an average of 12 minutes. But they remain in landfills, oceans, parks and beaches for thousands of years. So do yourself and the earth a favor, and pick up one of these snazzy reusable bags today!
4. BYOM- Bring Your Own Mug (and water bottle).
This can be another tough one to get used to, but once one starts doing it, it’s hard to imagine reverting back to one-time-use plastic and paper cups. It takes 24 gallons of water to produce one pound of plastic. There are lots of options for fashionable, easy-to-clean coffee mugs and water bottles, too!
5. Use alternate transportation.
If you regularly take the subway to work, try walking, running, or biking one day per week in one direction. If you regularly drive to work in a city, try using public transportation a couple days per week. And if you only have the option of driving, try to carpool with others traveling in the same direction as you. Luckily, driving less is already on the rise among young people. From 2001 and 2009, the average annual number of vehicle-miles traveled by young people (16-34 years old) decreased from 10,300 miles to 7,900 miles per capita- a 23% drop. Let’s keep it up!
Happy Earth Day to you all, and let’s all strive to make every day Earth Day in the coming days, months, and years!