Earth Day had a surprisingly powerful effect on me this year. I really am quite shocked at the sense of urgency I feel. I think it is because I have learned so much about the damage we are doing to our planet over the last few days. I always knew that the rain forest were being harvested, that the greenhouse effect was in fact real…I just hadn't realized how bad it really was. I watched Oprah on Friday and the 20/20 Special, both focusing on Earth Day, and they terrified me. The sheer amount of pollution that we are generating is mind boggling.
Today, on Earth Day, I am making a commitment to go green. I already recycle like a crazy person (ask Kelly, it drives him nuts) but there is more I can do. Tomorrow I am going to Whole Foods and stocking up on non-toxic cleaners, recycled paper products, energy saving light bulbs…the works. Over the next few days you will also see a new section on my blog. I am adding a "Go Green" section with links to all the fabulous websites I have found today. Below is a list of easy things that you can do to become more green. Most of it is information taken from Oprah's website.
Use One Less Napkin per Day
"Napkins make a huge difference," Elizabeth says. "We use 2,200 of them
a year, per person on average. Six a day. So if we all gave up one
napkin a day, we could save a billion pounds of paper waste … from
going to landfills a year."
Choices at the Grocery Store
Environmental expert Simran Sethi, from the Sundance Channel's The Green, says one place to start when making eco-friendly choices is the grocery store.
- Many items come in packaging made from petroleum products. Instead, look "for things that have minimal packaging," Simran says.
you must buy disposable plates, look for ones made of 100 percent
recycled plastic. "They're dishwasher safe, easy to use, and you can
use them over and over again."
- Buy recycled aluminum foil, which requires just one-twentieth the energy of nonrecycled foil. Then, recycle it when you're done!
organic produce. Because it doesn't use pesticides, it uses less
energy. "This is actually going to be healthier for you and healthier
for the planet.
Paper or Plastic?
It's a question you're asked all the time, Paper or plastic? What's the
environmentally correct answer? Simran says it's really neither. More
than 380 million plastic bags are thrown away in the United States
every year, and those plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to
biodegrade in landfills. And while paper bags do eventually biodegrade,
an estimated 14 million trees a year have to be cut down to make 10
billion paper bags. The solution? Bring your own bag to the store and fill it with recycled and organic items.
Reuse Your Water Bottles
When you buy one liter of water at the store, you're actually buying
about six liters of water, Simran says. That's because when
manufacturers make plastic bottles, it takes five liters of water to
cool the plastic.
To save the resources used in creating all those bottles, Simran
suggests getting a water filter and a reusable aluminum or plastic
bottle from a company like Sigg, Nalgene or New Wave Enviro.
One thing to consider if you buy a plastic bottle is its grade. Look on
the bottom of the bottle for a small plastic triangle with a number in
the middle. If you see a number 2, 4 or 5, the bottle is safe. If it
has some other number, don't use it as a water bottle. Those other
plastics can make your water taste like plastic and leach harmful
chemicals into your body. "You don't want your water tasting like
plastic," Simran says. "If you're tasting plastic, you're ingesting
Get Rid of that Junk Mail!
Matt Damon received a life-changing gift last holiday season. A friend
signed him up for Greendimes, an organization that seeks to cut down on
junk mail. Not only does junk mail clog up your mailbox, it also
requires an estimated 100 million trees and 20 billion gallons of water
For about a dime a day, Greendimes will stop 70 to 90 percent of the
junk mail you are now getting. They also plant a tree a month for every
member. "So not only are you saving trees from being cut down, you're
actually participating in replanting trees," Matt says. "We need our
trees, obviously, because they do everything from remove air pollution
and sequester carbon, they filter our water, they provide wildlife with
Even if these products are more expensive that traditional cleaners,
Simran says the health benefits may be worth the cost. In some areas of
the country, the air quality inside the home is twice as dangerous as the air outside the home, according to the EPA.
"The reason is because of, in part, cleaning products, the paints that
we have on our walls, varnishes on our furniture, the formaldehydes and
glues in our carpet," Simran says. "You're creating this little
chemical cocktail you're breathing in all the time."
Utilize Power Strips
You don't have to spend money to save the planet. Investing in items like the Smart Power Strip will conserve energy and cash. Simran says most people don't know that plugged-in appliances and
electronics use energy even if they're turned off. "We're spending all
this money to power things that are in the off position," she says. "We
call it vampire standby power." To cut your electricity costs, Simran suggests plugging in your
electronics to the Smart Power Strip, which retails for $32.95. Then,
when you turn off the power strip, all the items plugged into it will
also power down. "I love this thing," she says.
Over time, you'll see your monthly electricity bill and your energy usage decrease.
Change a Lightbulb!
Simran says replacing regular, inefficient light bulbs with compact
florescent light bulbs (CFLs) can make a big difference. "Most of the
energy in the United States comes from coal-fired plants," she says.
"What we're doing when we run inefficient products is we're burning a
lot more coal, and we're putting a lot more carbon into the
A CFL is 70 to 75 percent more efficient than other bulbs, she says.
Florescent bulbs will cost a little more up front, but Simran says you
should save money on your electricity bill over time. Plus, these bulbs
can last 8 to 10 years!
If every family replaced one bulb with a CFL, Simran says it would be
like reducing carbon emissions from 800,000 cars. "I'm asking [America]
to have a light bulb moment and change out one light bulb!" she says.
Don't worry…these florescent lights aren't like the ones used in high
school cafeterias. Simran says the new, improved bulbs, which cost
about $6, give off beautiful light and can be adapted to dimmers.
"They've really evolved as a product," she says.
Recycle Everything You Can
According to the EPA, each person in the United States creates about
four and a half pounds of trash every day. One way to reduce that
number is by recycling anything and everything you can.
Although every city has a different recycling policy, Simran says
almost every city accepts newspapers. "If there was one thing you could
do, recycle your newspapers," she says. "One four-foot high stack of
newspapers is the equivalent of one 40-foot fir tree. That is what we
are saving when we recycle our newspapers."
You can visit
Earth911.org and type in your zip code to get specific guidelines.
Happy Earth Day everyone!!!