Good Morning My Darlings. Today is Earth Day. As a flower child of the 70's, when Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed a day to celebrate the Earth, (1970) and he decided to do it on my birthday, well, I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. One big giant party all for me.
Not so much, but I like the idea. When people ask me when my birthday is, I say Earth Day. Only a few people have ever known when that is. Usually I get, "Oh that's in April, isn't it?" Yeah, the BEST day in April.
And you know, I sort of take this as my responsibility to educate people about what they can do to help our planet. I'm warning you now, I am climbing high up on my soap box, and this is an unusually long post.
I watched a NOVA special on PBS the other night called POWER SURGE. All about the things we can do to help our dying (yes, DYING) planet come back from the brink. I've always been an environmentalist, a recycler, reuser, reducer. I drove my parents nuts when they started mandatory recycling in our community. I have more junk furniture in my house than I have room for, old wood in my backyard for my new shed (that I will build someday) and Monster Child has been taught where the stuff goes in the recycle bins in the kitchen. We go to the recycle dump once a month.
Any-hoo, this documentary talked about what we can do on a GLOBAL scale to reduce the use of carbon emissions that we, as people, pollute our planet with. Our environment is slowly succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning and some scientists have an estimate that by 2035, our world will not be what we are used to. Global warming will turn South Dakota into Florida and the ice caps will have completely melted. Can I just say that's only 24 years from now? How old will your children, or grandchildren be?
There is talk (and action) on a large scale, that solar power is the next big thing. Jimmy Carter had the right idea when he put solar panels on the White House. It's a shame Regan took them down. Bill Clinton had the right idea to invest in better gas mileage for our cars. It's a shame Bush didn't care.
But I do care. I have always cared. And you should too. In this tv show, one of the scientists said that EFFICIENCY is the biggest and best thing, that we, as single humans, can do to help our planet. If we, on a global scale, did things to conserve on our use of electricity usage, we could alleviate almost HALF of our 50 ton carbon footprint every year.
LET ME REITERATE THAT, IN CASE YOU MISSED IT. ONE SINGLE HUMAN BEING ON THIS PLANET EMITS 50 TONS OF CARBON FOOTPRINT PER YEAR BETWEEN THE ELECTRICITY WE CONSUME AND THE CARS WE DRIVE.
Now, I understand some of us like the convenience modern technology has afforded us. Hey, I couldn't live without my computer either. But there are ways, simple things, we can all do to help out. Here are just a few of my suggestions. (And I've been doing these things for YEARS. You might call me old-fashioned, or just plain crazy, but you know what, my daughter is only 6. She'll only be 30 in 2035. I'd hate to think she won't have trees for HER children to play in.)
You know the bags your cereal comes in...it's made out of wax paper. After you recycle the cardboard box, you can use the cereal bags as freezer bags, (or any kind of bags really, they're very sturdy) or for covering your food in your microwave. (Did you know if you use plastic wrap in your microwave it emits a chemical that causes cancer. Wax paper doesn't.)
Plastic 2 liter soda bottles....If you poke holes in the bottom spikes (that the bottle stands on), and cut the top off, fill it with dirt, voila, instant plant container. I don't know how many of these I had on my deck last year. I planted tomatoes, squash, watermelon, daisies, pansies. And you can always see when they need water.
Frozen food containers. I have 187 houseplants that always need repotting. I have enough pots, what I never have is enough bottoms to hold the runaway water. Those little black plastic bowls and platters are fabulous. Also great for cat food, leftovers, and holders of junk drawer flotsom and jetsam.
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use the back sides of already used paper. Either cut it up in quarters and use it for notes, or reuse it to print out your manuscript.
On every television(3) we have in the house, which is invariably also plugged into a vcr or dvd, I have a power strip. Everything gets plugged into that strip. When I am done with the tv, I shut the whole strip off. No electricity is being wasted. The same goes for my computer and all that hoo-ha. Power strip. Done with it, I shut the whole thing down. Kitchen counter crap, coffee maker, toaster, mixer, blender, whatever...power strip. I only use it for what, 20 minutes in the morning, why do I need to drain electricity for the rest of the 24 hours in a day. The lamps in the dining room are unplugged until I need them. Any plug I can find, that I don't need on a regular basis gets unplugged..
My heat is set on 66 in the winter. Yes, you heard me. And yes, sometimes it gets a little chilly. But you know what, we wear sweaters. And sometimes even hats. My electric bills are so cheap, I have had people say they couldn't believe how I did it. I also don't use the a/c. We sweat a lot in the summer, but with dark curtains and fans, and a pool (a wading pool for now) we do all right. My electric bill for the last two summers was on average $45-. Yeah. My mother's was almost $175-.
If you have a heat pump (most of us do here in the south) have it checked at least once a year for maintenence. When my heat guy came last year he found a big fat leak in one of the pipes. If he hadn't found it, my electric bill would have been astronomical.
Hang your laundry. I haven't dried laundry in over 25 years. I have a perfectly good (brand new, as a matter of fact) clothes dryer. I did an experiment when I first moved here. I only dried my clothes ONCE, in one month, when my electric bill was practically the same from month to month. Do you know how much it cost to dry ONE LOAD? Seven dollars. That's right. $7- to dry one load of laundry at my house. That's more than if I went to the laundrimat. In the winter, I have a wooden clothes rack and a hanging clothes rack and hang all my stuff in the playroom/office. In the summer, I have three lines.
Wash in cold water. If you spend a little extra on Tide cold water detergent, you get the same result if you washed in warm or hot with a less expensive detergent.
And for pity's sake, if you have a dishwasher, only run it when it's full. I used to have a client who used to wash her BREAKFAST dishes. ONLY. and then at lunch. her LUNCH dishes. ONLY. Same for dinner. She didn't want the dirty dishes sitting all day, didn't want to wash them by hand. I loathed going to this woman's house. Not only did she waste water, she wasted electricity.
And I know this last one is kind of gross, but you know what, it's all about conservation. We only flush the toilet after three number 1's. We do flush after #2. It's a habit from the beach, and sure you need to give an extra swish with the toilet cleaner, but think how many gallons of water you are saving. I for one, do not have the money right now to put in new toilets.
Low flow shower heads are all on sale this week and next at the big box stores. For $20- bucks you can save over $100- on your water bill every year (combine that with the toilets and wow). Do you remember when we didn't have to pay for water? I do. It was a LONG time ago.
I won't go on and on about how to save gas, you should all be doing errands in one big lump. Don't just go willy nilly. Do everything you have to on one day.
And for God's sake, get rid of all your dry cleaner clothes. Do you have any idea what chemicals are produced when you dry clean. I have only worn cotton or linen clothes since I was a kid. I IRON everything. And I know some of you think I'm out of my mind, but I don't care. I refuse to buy anything I can't wash and dry and iron.
I'm the trash picking queen. If I see a piece of furntiture out on trash day, I'm there. If someone wants to give me a piece of furniture, I take it. I once made a greenhouse from old windows I found on the road. I've also decorated my office with old milk crates, orange boxes and wood from old kitchen cabinets. (I have BIG plans for the cabinets from my mother's kitchen reno this time.)
Can I just say GoodWill, the Salvation Army, church thrift stores. Donate what you don't want or can't use anymore. Give the kid's old clothes away to someone who could use them. Someone once gave me 6 garbage bags of clothes for Monster Child and I was sooooo grateful. Pay it forward.
As for old furniture, paint it or recover it. If it's ripped, sew it. Do you have any idea how much perfectly good furniture ends up in the land fills?
Buy those reusable grocery bags. Or use old beach bags. Or any kind of bags. Less plastic in the land fill for the seagulls to choke on.
I want to thank you all for getting to the end of this post. I don't climb on a bandwagon very often, but this topic is important to me. If we all just did a few of these things, we would be, not only doing something IMPORTANT, we could save quite a few bucks. And everyone loves the idea of having more cash in their pockets don't you?
This day for our Earth, isn't just one day, it's a lifestyle choice. Some changes may be easy, some may take a while to adjust to. But you know what, you're helping to reverse what we have already done. If we lose our planet, we all die.
Happy Earth Day everyone. Now go out and plant a tree. Or some flowers. Take a walk in nature and think about what would happen if it wasn't there anymore.