I live in Florida where the magnificent manatee (affectionately known as sea cows) lives and is threatened, so being “green” is easy for me. The journey to being green starts with small but significant steps, one day and one effort at a time.
Being in nature is exhilarating, relaxing and restorative. We can experience common nature encounters in our own back yard every day which most of us take for granted, such as birds singing or squirrels running through the treetops. In southern Florida, it’s common to see alligators swimming along in local waterways, an otter scurrying across the parking lot, an Osprey “fishing” for his lunch or a watching a Roseate Spoonbill swinging his head back and forth searching for his next meal.
There is nothing like planning a picnic or an outdoor birthday party, there is excitement in the air. It’s so easy to take the beauty of this planet for granted, but when there is trash and car parts along the shoreline or the road, garbage everywhere you go and plumes of toxic smoke flowing into the beautiful blue sky, reality sets in.
The experiences that we all have with trash, oil spills and toxic fumes should be a constant reminder that we have a responsibility to be conscious of the way we live. There is a lot to do to return this planet to the beautiful place that it is meant to be.
We are very fortunate that large tracts of land were set aside decades ago as beautiful national parks all over the U.S. Nevertheless, those parks cannot and should not be the only natural environment that we are able to seek asylum from city life, cement and traffic.
When I participated on a volunteer project to clean up the grounds around a local zoo’s parking lot, we found litter everywhere. I knew in my heart right then that I must be part of the change that I expect to see. I recycle, reuse and conserve as a part of my daily life. If we all make a dedicated effort to take care of our planet, the gift we will give our children, grandchildren and generations beyond will be places of beauty, abundant wildlife and fresh, clean air.
We live in a wondrous world. Have you ever seen a photo of the Earth in space? It is a unique, beautiful, thriving and brilliant blue sphere. This planet is a miracle. As a conscious and caring society, we can begin making a difference right now.
How you Can Help
- A small but important change is to switch to compact florescent light bulbs. They make a lot of difference in your home by reducing the heat output of old light bulbs and they are now in much softer, easy on the eyes shades and when you leave a room, remember to turn off the lights.
- Purchase “green” office supplies, www.ecogreenoffice.com. Many office supply stores now carry large quantities of products that have a decreased impact on the planet. Recyclable paper, binders, labels etc. are easily accessible. The benefits of using recycled paper products in terms of energy, trees, and water saved, carbon emissions avoided, are an important part of your efforts to maintain ecological balance.
- Find ways to reduce and reuse paper is another way to be eco-friendly and save money, too such as print and copy double-sided, e-mail your documents as attachments, edit documents on screen rather than print and hand edit.
When it comes to using your vehicle:
- Shop by phone or mail
- Get regular tune-ups for your car as well as support the smog check program
- Keep the air filter in your car clean
- Use public transportation
- Use the cruise control when warranted
- Combine all of your errands into one trip
- Don’t overfill at the pump
- Keep tires properly inflated
- Purchase Energy Star rated appliances. Not only do homeowners save billions of dollars, they also reduce national fossil fuel emissions and it can reduce your home appliance energy usage and costs by as much as 10 percent to 50 percent. Here is website that lists many energy star appliances with details that will give you all of the information you need to determine which will work best for your family, www.energystar.gov.
- Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billion shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste. Plastic bags are not biodegradable. Light breaks them down into smaller and smaller particles but they contaminate the soil and water and are expensive and difficult to remove.
- Make use of your local grocery store’s recycle programs. Most now have recycle bins for Styrofoam, plastic and paper bags. If they don’t, present the idea to the store management, I am sure if they have enough customers’ making requests, they will create a recycle program.
- Purchase and use the reusable shopping bags that many stores now offer they cost less than a $5 each.
- Recycle batteries, small electronics and your old cell phone. Here is a website that offers information about local recycle programs, www.earth911.com.
- Recycle broken or outdated equipment through your local Staples recycle program staplesadvantagerecycling.com.
- Recycle clothes and used furniture through local charity donation programs, consignment or thrift stores.
- Buy only the groceries that you need and what you can eat, the amount of food wasted in the US is staggering. The US generates more than 34 million tons of food waste each year.
- Reduce the pollution in your home. Most people aren’t aware that the pollution in their home is much worse than the air they breathe outside. Some indoor pollutants are dust, smoke, paint, paint removers and paint strippers, laundry detergents, spray cleaners, and pesticides. Even though they smell good, there is danger to your lungs using aerosol sprays such as room deodorizers, hair spray, fragrance candles, etc. To learn more about cleaning up your inside air, go to American Lung Association.
- Use ceramic mugs or cups and instead of plastic or Styrofoam cups.
- Recycle your junk mail or get off the lists, by contacting the Direct Marketing Association.
Everyone loves to spend time with their family and friends in nature. I believe that change comes through the power of collaboration. If we all joined together, we could make a considerable change in our environment. I encourage you to commit to making a difference not only for yourself, but for all of those who will inherit the earth.