It somehow seems appropriate that since it’s Earth Day we talk about all the little things we can do to help improve the world around us. After all, we do hold the world in our hands and it’s our job to safeguard it for our children’s future.
Obviously there is our ability to recycle now and most cities and towns ask citizens to place glass, metal and certain papers into recycle bins for pick-up. But there are lots of other things you can “recycle” as well.
Take old clothes that are still serviceable. Take them to a local Salvation Army or Goodwill location. If they can’t sell them, chances are they will send the clothes to recycling centers.
As for old computers and toner cartridges – a big problem due to the heavy metals in all the parts. If your computer is not all that old, look online for people who are willing to take them as charitable deductions. Just make sure to wipe the hard drive of your data. And as for toner cartridges, most companies, like HP, have options for returning the empty cartridges to them for re-use. Another thing you can try to do is to buy toner that uses soy inks. Another good way to help the environment.
What else can you do? Don’t litter. It amazes me every day to see people dropping papers and other trash on the street in NYC. It makes me wonder if they do the same thing at home. It also makes me wonder what the city would look like if each of the 20 million people who come here every day would drop just one piece of paper.
Smokers – don’t leave your butts and other things on the street. Most of the garbage I see on NYC streets is the remainders of butts, matches, etc. If you’re lucky enough to be at a beach that allows smoking (more and more beaches are prohibiting this), remember that the sand is not your ashtray.
If you are walking in a park or along the beach and see a piece of garbage that you can pick up and throw away appropriately (if it’s safe to pick up, mind you), then please do so. I tell my daughter that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem and that’s especially true of the environment.
Finally, it’s nice to have the money to be a consumer. Being a consumer has almost been ingrained into the American way of life. Lease a car and change it over every few years. Buy the latest and greatest as soon as it’s out. Buy bulk (ugh, I so need to work on this!) at the big box store. I’m sure you guys can think of some other ways in which we are encouraged to consume.
Here’s the thing — we need to learn to consume responsibly. The latest and greatest is nice, but it’s a drain on most people’s incomes and what we junk that is relatively new may end up in a trash heap somewhere unless you can find someone to give it to or take it for their own use (FYI – Freecycle is a great way to do this!). As for buying in bulk, Americans toss out immense amounts of food that is spoiled or expired because we buy more than we can consume in a reasonable period of time.
As for cars — well, we run our American-made autos into the ground. It’s nice not to have car payments after 3 to 5 years rather than continuously paying for leasing. Also, some of those hybrids may contain heavy metals and the price is high. There are many energy efficient internal combustion engines out there at more reasonable prices. Try car-pooling instead to be environmentally conscious.
Funny how helping the environment can also help your wallet as well.
One thing that might not help your wallet — jumping on the band wagon of buying all new “green” products. Why? Well, consuming for one. If you’ve got something relatively new that your junking just to go green, you may wish to reconsider both for the sake of your wallet and the environment. Why else? All those green cleaners are probably great, but sometimes pricey. Baking soda and vinegar can do “green” cleaning for a small portion of the price. So can a lemon wedge and salt or lemon oil and salt (for buffing and scouring. A trick from hubby’s old Italian grandmother!).
Anyway – just some ideas to hopefully get your mind going environmentally on this 40th Earth Day! If you’ve got “green” tips of your own, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on how we can improve and protect our environment.