The world recently celebrated Earth Day, but the whole month of April is Earth Month, a month-long focus on the planet, sustainability and how you can make the world a better place. Earth Day has been around for 51 years and is more important than ever.
When I was growing up in Jasper, Tennessee, we didn’t have a garbage pickup, but we had tons of trash, which everyone was burning.
My mom ordered a bunch of red bricks, bought a few bags of cement, and designed an incinerator to tastefully burn our trash. She laid the brick in a long curve behind the garage and proceeded to mix the concrete and layer brick after brick with concrete.
Delighted with our new dump, we regularly burn everything in it. Neighbors did the same, and the smell of burning rubber and thick black smoke in the air were common.
Not so long ago, the idea of recycling was a bit extreme for me. It was excessive and exaggerated, and pretty. I’ve never, ever thrown trash, but I certainly didn’t hesitate to toss a plastic milk jug in the trash or toss a stack of magazines in the trash.
I changed. Like most people breathing air in 2022, I recycle. Even though the garbage collection is twice a week, I barely have enough garbage to fill the bin halfway, and that’s only once a week!
One of the many things I love about my community is the fact that a long time ago when the powers that be that operate the dumpster stopped accepting glass, the city didn’t miss a beat. Fast as a cricket, he spawned a massive dumpster that only accepts glass, adding it to the cardboard area and the large dumpster that takes just about anything but plastic bags. The city quickly recycles cardboard, paper, plastic, glass and just about anything except light bulbs and batteries.
Almost everyone is familiar with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of floating trash between Hawaii and California that’s twice the size of Texas. Well, most of it probably comes from me, collected over all those years of throwing empty tin cans and beer cans in the trash. But I’m catching up now, or trying to.
There are plenty of incentives to recycle, the main one being the horrible idea that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will grow to the size of South America. Energy efficiency researcher and consultant Luke Currin gives five simple ways to impact climate change, and none of them are extreme at all.
SWITCH YOUR BULBS TO LED Although LED bulbs are more expensive up-front than other bulbs, running an LED eight hours a day for a year will only cost you about $1. They are safer, more economical and more efficient than CFL bulbs, and they last about 25 years. Replace all your bulbs with LEDs and you’ll smile at the difference in your energy bill. “Soft white” bulbs provide a warm, cozy light ideal for dinner parties and bedside lamps. The “bright white” bulbs emit a cool, refreshing light ideal for kitchens. Daylight bulbs are ideal for workshops and garages.
EAT LESS BEEF Because it takes a lot of food, land and energy to raise cows, eating beef is five times worse for the climate than eating chicken. Even eating beef once or twice less per week will make a difference.
BUY RENEWABLE ENERGY Many utilities offer renewable energy options to their customers. The EPB is called Solar Share. Use the money you save by switching to LEDs and eating less beef to buy renewable energy. Buy as much as your budget allows.
DONATE TO REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT Due to diet, home energy use, driving, flying, etc., the average American adds approximately 17 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year. The global average is about five tons per person per year, according to the World Bank. If you’re a US CEO, you’re probably adding over 80 tons a year due to more travel and bigger homes. We can reduce our footprint by purchasing “carbon offsets” or certified projects that reduce carbon dioxide. Check out a non-profit organization called Cool Effect that invests your dollars in UN-certified carbon reduction projects around the world. By donating about $110 a year to Cool Effect, the average American can offset their annual emissions. Visit www.cooleffect.org for more information.
INSULATE YOUR HOME WITH THE HELP OF A CONTRACTOR Cooling and heating your home accounts for the largest portion of your energy bill. If your home is not well insulated, your bill is much higher than it could be because all that cool, warm air escapes through walls, windows and cracks. Have a contractor help you insulate and seal your home, and you’ll not only save tons on your energy bill, but your home will be much more comfortable.
Ferris Robinson is the author of three children’s books, “The queen who banished insects“, “The queen who accidentally banished the birds” and “Call me arthropod” in his series on pollinators. “Making Arrangements” is her first novel. “Dogs and Love – Stories of Fidelity” is a collection of true stories about man’s best friend. His website is ferrisrobinson.com and you can download a FREE pollinator poster there. She is the editor of The Lookout Mountain Mirror and The Signal Mountain Mirror.