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Do you know the history behind Earth Day? The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970, as a result of the largest grassroots effort in U.S. history when Senator Gaylord Nelson headed the effort to bring environmental issues into mainstream politics. Over 20 million Americans participated to make a national day of observance for environmental issues. The result was a huge success.
Over the years, Earth Day has grown in importance and continues to highlight ongoing education, action and change to protect our environment. It is celebrated throughout the country in many different ways. School groups, communities and everyday men and women get involved with restoration projects, local cleanups, tree plantings, parades, conferences, concerts and planting gardens.
So how can you get involved in celebrating Earth Day? That’s easy! Look for opportunities to participate in spring cleanups of local blocks, streets, empty lots, yards, and shorelines of coastal areas. Plant trees, shrubs and gardens where applicable. A more passive way to help the Earth is by making smart choices year round to protect our environment and following these “green” tips:
Save energy wherever you can:
- Walk, bike or carpool instead of driving whenever possible.
- Buy and install energy efficient light bulbs.
- Do not idle your car engine.
- Clean or replace the filter in your air conditioner. It will run more efficiently with a clean filter.
- Caulk, seal and weather strip all cracks to your home’s exterior.
- Adjust your thermostat two degrees warmer in the summer and two degrees cooler in the winter to conserve electricity.
- Use fans throughout the house to reduce the need for air conditioning.
- Turn to solar lighting for an energy efficient way to light your outdoor area. The sun's energy is free!
Use Water Efficiently:
- Run only full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine. Better yet, switch to high efficiency, Energy Star appliances.
- Fix leaky faucets and use water wise fixtures.
- Take 5 minute showers that only use about 10-25 gallons of water instead of baths that can use up to 70 gallons of water.
- Landscaping mulch is an easy way to conserve water for your garden and lawn. Irrigate early in the day to reduce evaporation.
- Choose native and adapted plants for your landscape to reduce the need for water.
- Collect rainwater in rain barrels for outdoor watering.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle:
- Buy a composter for kitchen and yard waste. Not only do you conserve landfill space but you also create nutrient rich compost for use in the garden.
- Leave grass clippings on the lawn as natural fertilizer.
- Don’t fertilize your yard if you know a big storm is approaching. This prevents fertilizer from being washed into lakes, rivers and streams.
- Take reusable bags with you when you shop.
- Try to reduce waste by reusing items creatively.
- E-cycle old electronics by donating them rather than sending them to a landfill.
- Recycle newspapers, glass and aluminum.
- Buy only what you need!