Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

It's Earth Day... as the title insinuates. Ha!  It's also Good Friday, so the university is closed and Matt and I are home. Who knew that Good Friday (a religious holiday) was a national holiday? I must have, but it's slipped my attention all these years. Ah well, I'm happy to have the day off for a multitude of reasons. The first is that I have an absolute ton of school work to do and very little time left to do it.  Having a three day weekend is just what I need right now to get caught up!
The second is that it's Earth Day and not having to go anywhere affords me the opportunity to devote my Earth Day to staying home and not driving anywhere. While I'm not one of those people who believe that humans are killing the planet, I do believe that we're making quite a mess of it. Earth Day is about making our planet healthy, clean, and beautiful again. So, this Earth Day I'm taking two measures.
  1. I'm not driving anywhere.  Even if I need something, the car will remain parked in the drive way. I'm also making sure Matt doesn't drive anywhere. Only minimal increase to our carbon footprint today!

  2. I'm not taking a shower. I know that sounds strange, but since I'm not going anywhere, and I just had a shower last night, there's no reason to waste the water. Showering is a huge waste of water insofar as much of the water just runs down the drain without contributing to our cleanliness... particularly when we're letting it run so the water will heat up!
I would plant a tree, except that I don't have anywhere to do so. We rent the land our houses is on, that's it. Since we don't own a lawn mower, or whatever, blocking off space for a planter close to the house is out of the question. The guys who mow would be ticked! So, rather than planting a tree, staying home and not showering will be our contributions.

Truly, I try to do things all year to be at least somewhat green. Things like:

  • Only having one car and never flying.

  • Reading from a Kindle, which I really believe saves trees (or has the potential to save trees). E-publishing is green!

  • Using Compact Fluorescent Light-bulbs (CFL) throughout the house.

  • Using 100% wind energy from Green Mountain Energy. My biggest regret about GME is that I'm pretty sure they're not in California. So, when we move, no clean wind energy for us. While there are green energy programs in CA, but none of them are as widespread or specific as what we have now. What a shame; Green Mountain Energy really needs to spread their wings and bring their amazing wind energy programs to California.

  • Using only Energy Star rated & approved appliances.

  • Skipping on the styrofoam (mostly) -- don't even get me started about that!

  • Eating relatively small amounts of meat and almost no red meat.

I calculated our Carbon Footprint and it's pretty darn low, however, in the spirit of Earth Day, there are a lot of things we could be doing to be more green. As a believer in being environmentally cautious, it's a bit hypocritical for me to take the easy route on things that I could otherwise be doing a little bit better.  Matt and I drink a ton of bottled water, for example, and we just throw the bottles away. I think, rather than throwing them away, I'm going to start putting them in a separate container and recycling them --assuming I can find a recycling place in town. I suppose I could also recycle gallon cartons from both milk and water. We don't drink soda much, and never buy it, so that's not an issue anymore.

There are a lot of people who say that it's a good idea to run the extra water from the shower, that water that just runs down the drain when we're waiting for the water to heat up, into a bucket and use it for other household purposes, like flushing the toilets, watering plants, doing laundry, etc. I'm considering whether that's just excessive, and more trouble than it would be worth, but it might just save us on our water bill, so I may consider trying it out.  Of course, trying to get Matt on board is a much bigger problem than doing it myself. He's skeptical of all things environmental. He just doesn't care as much as I do, I'm afraid.  He subscribes to the George Carlin environmental understanding that the planet was here before we were and will be here when we're gone.

For myself, I ascribe to the idea that when we die, whatever our religious beliefs, we become a part of the earth. We're recycled, over time, and I'd like to some day become a part of a beautiful green earth, rather than a filthy mess. I know that's somewhat dark, especially for a day like Earth Day, but I think it's appropriate because it's also Good Friday, which, for all it's ushering in of the happy spring holiday, Easter, is a celebration in remembrance of death.

I hope you're having a lovely three day weekend and are taking a moment to stop and think about Earth Day.  For me, this holiday symbolizes a reflection on all the things I'm doing right for the Earth, and a day to consider all the things I could be doing better. If you haven't ever done so, or haven't do so recently, calculate your Carbon Footprint (Global Footprint Network - Footprint Calculator) and find out what you could be doing to help save the earth.

Happy Earth Day & Good Friday!

{Image courtesy of Shutterstock}