Earth Day 2010

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[April 22, 2010 is the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day; below is an e-mail from Charles Williams, Travis County Conservation Coordinator. Enjoy! – SE]

Earth Day, a day to reflect on our relationship with the planet. But we need more than an Earth Day. We need more than a week, a month, or even a year. We need an Earth Generation. We need to be the Earth Generation.

Sustainable living has certainly become a buzz phrase. More and more people are looking at ways to reduce their ecological footprint: driving less, eating less meat, wearing sustainable fashions. As individuals, we are increasingly aware of the impact we have on the planet and our fellow humans. But is greening our own lifestyle enough?

By taking the concept of sustainable living beyond the narrow, individualistic approach, we can learn to see our interconnectedness to our environment and its inhabitants. By getting involved in our communities, by talking to our neighbors, by supporting local groups, and by re-imagining where we live, we can green not only our own lifestyles, but our streets, neighborhoods, towns, cities and, ultimately, our societies. Who knows, we may even make friends doing it.

That means reorganizing our economy – how we make things, power things, move things, buy things, and sell things. Our economy is not just tearing itself apart, it is also tearing the planet apart and burning down whatever’s left. Built on the idea that we can (and should) conquer nature, our economy is at war with the Earth. And this war has no winners, only losers. We need a new way to do things. Saving the environment does not mean pitting trees against people. It is, in fact, an opportunity for innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic opportunity.

We need a green economy.

But if this green economy takes care of the planet, yet abandons people to the worst excesses of the market, then we will have only replaced one monster with another. As we invent a new way to take care of the Earth, we also need to invent a new way to take care of each other. Our green economy must help the planet and the people.

Things to think about during this Earth Day celebration:

Use Recycled Paper
Americans use more than 67 million tons of paper per year, or about 580 pounds per person. Every day – American businesses generate enough paper to circle the earth 20 times! Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 7,000 gallons of water!

Plant a tree
– One tree can filter up to 60 pounds of pollutants from the air each year.
– Every Sunday, Americans waste 90 percent of recyclable newspapers. This wastes 500,000 trees!
– Every year more than 900 million trees are cut down to provide raw materials for American paper and pulp mills. (Look up trees that are native to your region and plant one)

Clean Naturally
A few safe, simple ingredients such as plain soap, water, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), vinegar, washing soda (sodium carbonate), lemon juice, and borax can satisfy most household cleaning needs, and save you money at the same time.  Here are two examples:
– To deodorize carpets mix 1 part borax with 2 parts cornmeal; spread liberally and vacuum after an hour.
– To polish metal — For silver, boil for three minutes in 1 quart of water, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of salt, and a piece of aluminum foil (Keep foil in contact with silver.)

Travis County Employees:
– Turn the lights out in the bathroom or conference room when not in use.
– You don’t need hall lights that will bring in a 747. Turn 1/2 of them off; get with facilities.
– Recycle, Recycle, Recycle and when you are not doing that Recycle.
– But the best is to reduce your use of items.
– Turn the computer off when going home for the day.
– Take the bus!!! Or the new train and gain a new experience or meet a new friend.
– Keep it electronic. The electronic age was suppose to reduce the use of paper; it hasn’t happened!!!
– Use re-manufactured toner cartridges.  We saved over $30k in 2009 and could save up to $118,000 due to the cheaper cost.
– When buying from Office Depot look at the Recycled catalog and *Buy Recycled*.

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