Saturday 22nd April is Earth day – this in an annual event to raise awareness and promote protection of the environment, so I wanted to spend some time considering how we can all take more care of our planet.
The earth provides us with all we need to survive – water, air, food, shelter and fossil fuels, which are all valuable resources, but according to an Environmental Scientist, Dr Mathis Wackernagal in the 1990’s estimated we are using the earth’s resources 50% faster than it's being replenished. This is a worrying statistic. So, just like you and I need to replenish ourselves with good food, water, rest and some TLC, if we don’t consider how we can help the Earth replenish its resources, it will eventually be exhausted.
So here are some actions we can all take that will help both the plant and ourselves:
Plant a Tree
Deforestation contributes to species extinction and poverty worldwide, as well as 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Planting a tree is one of the easiest ways to fight climate change. Get the kids involved and plant a tree in your garden. Over time, it will provide shade, take in carbon dioxide and exchange it for oxygen, improve the water quality in the soil and provide a calm surrounding for you and your family.
If you can’t plant a tree, consider a donation to Plant a Tree. The Woodland trust is the UK’s leading conservation charity and are standing up for the Trees. You can donate on their website www.woodlandtrust.org.uk and find out more about how you can help.
Eat less Meat
The Meat industry generates one fifth of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Help make a difference by choosing to eat vegetarian meals once or twice a week. Interestingly enough, vegetarians are less likely to be obese, have lower cholesterol and are less likely to suffer with heart disease.
Stop using disposable plastic bags
End our obsession with plastic bags. These are non-biodegradable and often end up suffocating animals and their habitats and pollute the waterways. Protect the environment and save yourself some money by using reusable carrier bags and shopping bags.
Recycle, Donate or Reuse
We are naturally wasteful – paper, food scraps, grass cuttings, old electronics, packaging – all of its gets thrown away, and much of it ends up in landfill.
Many councils promote recycling these days and most of us are clued up to recycling glass, plastic containers, paper etc. Even electronics can be safely wiped clean of any data and recycled, either as reconditioned units, or for their individual parts.
For other household items, electronics and clothes, donate them to someone who can make use of them or your local charity. Or, if you want to make a bit of cash from those unloved items, try selling them on websites such as EBay, Gumtree, Magpie or Shpock, or find your local selling group on Facebook.
Walk or Cycle
Driving is a huge factor in pollution, every time you drive, 1.5lbs of CO2 gas is released into the atmosphere. If your journey is a short one, try walking or cycling – you benefit from the fresh air and exercise too! Cycling leisurely at 6mph burns 240 calories per hour, and walking at a leisurely pace of 2-3mph burns 300 calories per hour.
If your journey to work if too far to walk or cycle, consider car sharing with a co-worker who lives close by. Not only will this save the environment, it will save you both money on fuel too.
Consider collecting rainwater. Ideal for watering the garden, hanging baskets and preserves the reservoirs in Summer. It also uses far less water than a hosepipe and considering how much rain we get in the UK, this should be an easy fix, all you need is a large container in the garden.
Think when you drink
There has been much coverage on this subject in the news about the dangers of chemical contaminants found in bottled water, especially when stored incorrectly. A better option would be to invest in a stainless-steel canteen-like bottle for water, which can be re-used but without the dangers of plastic toxins leaking into the water. Thermos mugs are also a great alternative for hot beverages such as coffee and far better than disposable plastic and paper cups.
Today’s modern fabrics contain perflourinated chemicals (PFC’s) which ensure clothes and bedding are crease free, but again toxic chemicals are bad for the environment and your health. Many of these chemicals can be toxic next to the skin, causing irritation, allergies and overloading the liver. Be careful though, as not all natural materials are chemical free either. The Cotton industry use heavy pesticides to ensure a bumper crop and increase profit margins. Try alternatives such as Hemp, organic cotton, wool or silk to continue to support the environment and minimise your exposure to toxic chemicals.
Clean using Natural products
Harsh cleaners for the home contain chemicals which are again harmful to the environment and human beings. These have been linked to a variety of health issues such as asthma, skin rashes and allergies. There are some great websites which show you how to make natural cleaners such as www.eartheasy.com. For example, try one part white vinegar to one part water for glass cleaner or shower cleaner, try using lemons to clean the kitchen, and try bicarbonate of Soda with vinegar to clean the toilets.
Go Organic and grow your own food
This option is far fresher, tastes better, teaches the kids where food comes from, and doesn’t require fossil fuels for transportation to major supermarket chains. There are also no chemical pesticides used, and you get some great exercise during the process.
Even if you have a small garden or no garden at all; tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce and courgettes can be grown in pots and herbs like parsley, basil and mint can be grown in window boxes.
I hope this has provided some inspiration for making small changes that will help both protect the environment and make you a little healthier at the same time.
It’s important to appreciate the areas of natural beauty as we all use them for recreation purposes – a walk over Cannock Chase, hiking through the Welsh Mountains, skiing in Italy, Summer holidays at beautiful beaches, taking the kids to the park. With more and more houses and factories being built, the green belt is slowly disappearing.
So, let’s give a little love and respect to the Plant and ourselves to ensure we are all happier and healthier for years to come.
Happy Earth Day