PLANT A WISH TREE FOR EARTH DAY – 22 APRIL 2009
Plant a Wish Tree for Earth Day
Or designate a tree as a Wish Tree in your backyard, a park nearby
or anywhere that will not inconvenience people in any way.
Ask people to put their wishes on it.
Give love to the tree every day by way of a spiritual maintenance.
Make a wish.
Write it down on a piece of paper.
Fold it and tie it around a branch of a Wish Tree.
Ask your friend to do the same.
Until the branches are covered with wishes.
More info about Wish Trees & where to send the wishes here.
Info about EARTH DAY from EARTH DAY Network:
TOP TEN Climate Change Solutions: What You Can Do Right Now
by Earth Day Network, www.earthday.net
Now it’s your turn.
Here’s Earth Day Network’s Top 10 list of actions for individuals, organizations and businesses to take as a first step in reducing your contribution to global warming. Send Earth Day Network an email with a pledge of the actions you can commit to right now and begin your journey to Save The Earth.
The time to act is NOW!
1. Project SWITCH!: Change your light bulbs!
There are now highly efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) that last for years, use a third of the energy of regular bulbs and actually produce more light. Look for the government’s ENERGY STAR label, which means the bulb has been tested for quality and efficiency. While each ENERGY STAR qualified bulb can cost more initially – anywhere from $4 to $15 a piece – remember that there are two price tags: what you pay at the register and what you pay in energy costs over the bulb’s lifetime. You may pay more up front, but you will actually save hundreds of dollars in your household budget over the long term because of their long life. Five ENERGY STAR light bulbs will save your household at least $150 over their lifetime.
Here’s the impact. If every household in the U.S. replaced a burned-out bulb with an energy-efficient, ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent bulb, the cumulative effect is enormous. It would prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that from nearly 800,000 cars. It would also save enough energy to light 2.5 million homes for a year.
There are other, simple things with household lighting you can do to conserve. Turn off unneeded lights, dim lights when you can and bring natural sunlight into your home when it is feasible.
But changing those old light bulbs and replacing them with ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescents that can last seven years or more is by far the best thing you can do.
2. Drive your car differently – or drive a different car altogether!
The sad truth is that a gas guzzler emits as much CO2 as some homes! That’s the bad news. The good news is that anything you can do to improve the fuel efficiency of your car will have an impact. On average, a passenger car emits 11,400 pounds of CO2 each year while a home emits 9,000 pounds of CO2 per person each year in the United States.
Horribly inefficient SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks now make up more than half of the cars on American roads. The real tragedy is that automakers could double the current average fuel efficiency of SUVs if they wanted. Even improving fuel economy from 20 miles-per-gallon to 25 miles-per-gallon would prevent 10 tons of CO2 from being released over a vehicle’s lifetime.
Buying a fuel-efficient car (like a Hybrid) is wonderful. In fact, replacing your gas-guzzling car with a fuel-efficient one is by far the best thing you can do, out of all your choices. But not all of us can do that – at least, not right now. So, in the interim, there are things you can do with the car you drive now to conserve energy and be more fuel-efficient.
Drive less. Every year, Americans as a whole drive more miles than they did the year before. Stop this trend. Telecommuting and public transportation are great options. Leaving your car at home two days a week will reduce your CO2 emissions by 1,590 pounds a year. Even piling multiple errands into one trip helps and if you can walk instead of drive, even better.
Get your car tuned up. Just a simple tune-up often improves fuel efficiency. Studies have shown that a poorly tuned engine can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10-20 percent.
Slow down, don’t race your car’s engine, and watch your idling. All of these save on gas (saving you money) and have a big impact on burning gasoline. You can save gas by turning the engine off and restarting it again if you expect to idle for more than 30 seconds.
3. Your house – not too hot, not too cold!
The bad news is that about 42 percent of your household energy costs go toward just two things – heating and cooling. The good news is that means you have a lot of room to make a difference and even small changes can make dramatic improvements in household fuel efficiency.
Replacing older heating and cooling systems with new efficient models can cut your annual energy costs by 20 percent. So replacing the old with the new is a wonderful idea, but not very practical for most of us. Things you can do right now to make sure you’re maintaining the right temperature in your house efficiently include:
Tune up your heating system. By keeping your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted, you can save up to 5 percent in heating costs.
Clean vents, close unused vents, and change filters in the vents. Again, just these simple things will save you up to 5 percent in costs.
Buy a programmable thermostat, which can regulate different temperatures at different times of the day. And if you have one, use it! These thermostats reduce energy use by 5-30 percent and save you $100-$150 in energy costs each year.
If one in 10 households serviced heating and cooling systems annually, cleaned or replaced filters regularly, used a programmable thermostat and replaced old equipment with ENERGY STAR models it would prevent the emissions of more than 17 billion pounds of greenhouse gases.
Add two degrees to the AC thermostat in summer, and two degrees in winter. If everyone did this, the cumulative impact is significant.
Make sure windows and doors are sealed. Again, this will dramatically improve your household fuel efficiency. Sealing air leaks and adding insulation can reduce your annual energy bill by 10 percent.
Of course, if you can stand it, by far the best approach is to avoid using air conditioners. Ceiling fans use 80 percent less energy than central air conditioners. By only using ceiling fans you can reduce your annual cooling costs by 10-65 percent. In warm weather run the fan blades in a counter-clockwise direction to feel 5 degrees cooler. During the winter set the fan blades to rotate clockwise at a low speed to force warm air from the ceiling down into the living space.
4. Tame the refrigerator monster!
Did you know that your friendly refrigerator has a voracious energy appetite? It is the biggest consumer of electricity among household appliances and responsible for 10-15 percent of the electricity you use each year.
Older refrigerators, as a rule, are far less efficient than the newest ones – as much as 50 percent less efficient. But buying a brand-new, energy-efficient refrigerator is not always in the cards for most of us. Fortunately, other things will help.
Don’t set the thermostat too high. Lowering the temperature even 1 degree will make a big difference.
If your refrigerator is near a heating vent, or always in the sun, then change the location, cover up the heating vent near it or cover the window.
Turn on your “energy saver” switch near the thermostat.
Clean the condenser coil. This one, very simple thing can improve the efficiency of your refrigerator reducing your annual energy costs by $20.
Get rid of your second refrigerator. If you don’t need it, don’t waste the energy.
Make sure the doors seal properly, and keep the cool in.
5. Twist the knobs on your other household appliances!
The other big users of energy in your household are your hot water heater, your washer and dryer, and your dishwasher. Each, in its own way, can be inefficient. Here are some things to try:
Either turn the hot water heater down to 120 degrees, or turn on the “energy conservation” setting. Some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140 degrees when most households only require them at 120 or 115 degrees. For each 10 degrees reduction in water temperature, you can save 3-5 percent in energy costs.
Buy insulation at a local store and insulate your hot water heater and pipes.
Install a timer on your water heater to turn off at night and on just before you wake up in the morning.
When possible, wash a few dishes by hand. Over time, that will save a few loads in the dishwasher, conserving energy.
Don’t pre-rinse dishes. Today’s detergents are powerful enough to do the job.
Wait until you have a full load to run the dishwasher.
Wash clothes in warm water, not hot. Ninety percent of the energy used in operating a washing machine goes toward heating the water that washes and rinses the clothes. The clothes will be just as clean, and you’ll cut energy use.
Don’t over-dry your clothes.
6. Green plants with less water, more trees to provide shade.
While it is true that planting more trees will help in the short term because they essentially soak up carbon, they also release carbon dioxide when they die. So it just postpones the problem. But there are other reasons to plant trees – as wind breaks to save energy, and as shade to lower cooling costs. And even the short-term help while we get our act together is a good thing.
As for plants, do everything you can in your yard and garden to create ways in which plants use less water. Choose hardier plants, plant things in groups that need more water and put in mulch to help keep moisture in. When you mow your grass, make sure you do it smartly – with sharp blades, and only when the grass needs cutting. Finally, make sure you water your lawn sparingly. All of these will conserve energy.
7. Buy Green Energy, and invest in green energy stocks.
Imagine if we ran out of fossil fuels tomorrow, what would we do? Well, we’d get our electricity from renewable energy, such as solar panels, geothermal and wind power sources. Many utilities now give consumers the option to buy “green power.” Ask for it!
Learn the truth about nuclear power and natural gas as viable “green” options. They aren’t. Radioactive waste will be a problem for tens of thousands of years into the future. Even though natural gas emits half as much CO2 as coal, it is still responsible for 20 percent of CO2 emissions in the United States while only providing us with around 23 percent of the energy consumed. Natural gas can help us make a transition, but it isn’t the solution.
Finally, invest in green stocks and renewable energy companies through socially responsible funds. They perform just as well (if not better) than all of the unfiltered funds.
8. Go organic.
Even with our vast reservoir of scientific knowledge about farming, most American farmers still spray a billion pounds of pesticides to protect crops each year.
Now here’s the kicker: when chemical pesticides are used to kill pests, they can also kill microorganisms that keep carbon contained in the soil. When the microorganisms are gone, the carbon is released into the atmosphere as CO2. And when those organisms are gone, the soil is no longer naturally fertile and chemical fertilizers become a necessity, not a luxury.
But besides going organic – thereby saving the carbon release from soil – there are other simple things you can do with food that will also make a difference:
Eat locally grown food. If the food doesn’t have to travel far, there’s less CO2 from the trucks that ship it.
Eat fruits and vegetables in season. Again, that saves the enormous transportation costs.
Plant your own vegetable garden. It’s not as hard as you might think.
9. Buy recycled.
This may sound simple, but it takes less energy to manufacture a recycled product than a brand new one. So if you and every other consumer buy recycled products, you’ll help create a market, and conserve energy along the way.
Because many manufacturers don’t go out of their way to tout their recycled products, you should know that aluminum and tin cans, glass containers, and pulp cardboard have a fair amount of recycled content. So buy away!
Recycled products can often be considerably cheaper than non-recycled products. Most recycled paper products are of comparable quality and cost competitive with virgin paper products.
Finally, before you buy, check to see if the product or its packaging can be recycled. The recyclable logo (three arrows forming a triangle) is fairly common now.
10. Be a minimalist.
We know it’s difficult, but in today’s consumer economy, an easy way to conserve energy is to simply use – and buy — less. Every time you buy something, energy has gone into getting that product to you. So the less you buy, the more you save energy-wise. It’s a simple equation.
This last item on our Top Ten list may, in fact, be the single biggest way to make a dent in the global warming problem. Again, we know it sounds obvious, but buying less things – some of which you just don’t need – changes the energy equation across the board, on every single consumer product. If everyone used less, the impact would be large indeed.
So how about some specific things? Here are a few:
Buy in bulk. In short, bulk items use less packaging, which translates into less energy.
Buy one of something, not 21 of something. You don’t need 21 pairs of shoes, if one pair works just as well.
Go through your closet. Donate or recycle what you really don’t need, then make a pledge not to replace everything you just got rid of.
Buy quality products that will last longer. Over time, you’ll obviously buy fewer products that way.
Be creative in what you use for work, play and leisure. You don’t always have to buy new products for activities. Re-use in creative ways.
Well, that’s it – Earth Day Network’s Top 10. As we said at the start, if just a third of us in the United States follow through on most of what’s on this list, we can all collectively make a difference – and keep greenhouse gas emissions where they might otherwise be if the U.S. government stepped in and imposed mandatory CO2 caps and fuel-efficiency standards.
President, Earth Day Network
GREEN YOUR HOME
• Replace inefficient incandescent light bulbs with energy star bulbs – reduce your carbon footprint by 450 pounds a year
• Keep your tires properly inflated and get better gas mileage – reduce your carbon footprint another 20 pounds for each gallon of gas saved
• Change your car’s air filter regularly
• Run your dishwasher only when it’s full
• Move your heater thermostat down two degrees in winter and up two degrees in the summer – reduce your carbon footprint by 2,000 pounds
• Use cold water to wash your clothes – reduce your carbon footprint by 500 pounds a year
• Buy Energy Star appliances
• Weatherize and insulate your home, and consider double pane windows
• Buy organic food because the chemicals used in modern agriculture pollute the water supply, and require energy to produce
• Keep your water heater insulated and the thermostat no higher than 120°F
• Plant a tree because trees suck up carbon dioxide and make clean air for us to breathe
• Use a low-flow showerhead because the less water you use, the less energy required to heat the water – reduce your carbon footprint 350 pounds a year
• Buy locally and reduce the amount of energy required to drive your products to your store
• Buy products with less packaging and recycle paper, plastic and glass
• Reduce your garbage by 10% and you’ll reduce your carbon footprint by 1,200 pounds a year
• Car pool, use public transportation or drive a fuel efficient car – reduce your carbon footprint by 1 pound for every mile you do not drive
• Turn off what you’re not using and even unplug electronics you’re not using – reduce your carbon footprint by thousands of pounds a year
GREEN YOUR OFFICE
• Eliminate unnecessary photocopying and reuse packaging for shipping
• Call your local utility which most likely offers advice on how to reduce energy use and save money
• Improve insulation and install timers to turn lights off automatically
• Encourage e-mailing. When paper is necessary, photocopy on both sides and use old letterhead for scratch
• Teleconference instead of traveling. For must-go trips, keep track of the miles driven and flown and buy “carbon offsets” from a reliable company or nonprofit to make up for the greenhouse gas emissions
• Tell suppliers that you’re interested in sustainable products and set specific goals for buying recycled, refurbished, or used. Make the environment, and not just price, a factor when purchasing
• Create a team to lead the company’s eco-efforts and determine where you can have the biggest impact for the least amount of money
• Inform suppliers and customers about your efforts. And get in touch with local regulatory agencies, many of which offer financial incentives to businesses that clean up their acts
• Provide reserved parking for carpoolers. Offer transit passes to employees who take the bus or subway and bike racks for cyclists. Let workers telecommute
• Consider the petroleum it takes to ship and receive products. Evaluate the impact of products you buy or sell, and find ways to mitigate that impact
• Many offices have toxic substances, such as used batteries and copier toner, at hand. Talk to suppliers about alternatives to toxics, and make sure you properly dispose of the ones you can’t avoid using
GREEN YOUR SCHOOL
• Flip the switch!
• Form a student patrol group to check that lights are off in vacant rooms
• Make signs or stickers for your classrooms that say “Flip the switch when leaving!” as a reminder to turn off lights
• Ask your teacher if you can run an experiment by turning off certain lights to assess comfort in various lighting (often natural light is preferred)
• Request to move unneeded lamps away from unused spaces and windows
• Request to use CFLs or LED bulbs and compute the energy savings Some like it hot, or cool?
• Bring in fans
• Request that air vents are kept clear
• Request 78 degrees for cooling and 68 for heating
• Ask to have programmable thermostats installed to reduce cooling and heating when rooms are vacant
• Ask to close classroom doors to trap heat in
• Work with custodians to fix drafty rooms; check that furnace filters are cleaned often
• Find leaks by making “draft-meters” from pencils and plastic wrap with your teacher
• Ask to make “insulation snakes” for the bottom of windows and doors as well as translucent window quilts Monitor those monitors
• Make sure computers are set to enter “sleep” mode when inactive; avoid screen savers
• Turn off monitors that won’t be used in subsequent classes
• Turn off computers when the day ends
• Patrol to check monitors and computers are off when not needed
• Request that Energy Star equipment be purchased
• Compute potential savings for Energy Star equipment and present the findings to administrators Recycle!
• Conserve paper by using both sides of a page in your notebooks, buy recycled paper, and make sure there is a paper recycling bin in every classroom
• Start a recycling program for the school. If you already have one, evaluate the current program to find new ways to reduce waste and conserve more materials
• Collect used printer, fax, and copier cartridges to recycle Out with the old
• Ask to discard old appliances & maintain others
• Ask that unneeded appliances be removed
• Study electricity consumption with a watt meter to reveal outdated appliances Daily dose of green
• On Earth Day, have everyone write down one way to help the Earth. Take them to the principal and start a daily Help the Earth PA announcement
• Organize to have healthy food served at your school and reduce the availability of junk food, sodas, and other unhealthy options, as well as choosing reusable utensils, trays, and dishes in the cafeteria
• Start walking or biking to school and invite others to join you. If you do not have bicycle racks or a safe route to school, tell your school and local officials to add bike racks, safety courses or clubs, and a pedestrian/bike friendly trail to school Have fun!
• Organize a clean-up day for your school and the surrounding area. Beautification projects such as tree plantings are quick solutions to many common problems
• Create an environmental mascot for your school. Hold a classroom contest to see who can come up with the best mascot and slogan
• Put on a play, such as “Walden,” about the spirit and/or importance of honoring the Earth. Find out more at www.earthday.net
• Have a contest to monitor the amount of trash each class creates after lunch (the same can be done with recycling). Keep a graph for about a week to see which class overall disposes the least amount of trash (or recycles the most) Engaging your school
• Talk to the principal and maintenance staff! Oftentimes, more knowledge and potential for change is available from your school’s staff than anyone else. Inquire about non-toxic cleaning products and recyclable materials. Find out what pesticides or chemicals are sprayed on school grounds
• Perform an energy audit with your on-site managers to determine your electricity’s source and potential for renewable energy. Examine your school’s air quality and ventilation, or investigate the possibility of creating a green roof for your school. And remember teachers and/or the school board can be involved in making your school a Green School
GET ACTIVE WITH YOUR KIDS
• Plant a Tree or Enjoy Nature: Planting trees is an effective way to reduce greenhouse gases. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and create oxygen for us to breathe. On Earth Day, venture to a park, fly a kite, ride a bicycle, or clean-up trash at a local stream or nature setting.
• Watch An Inconvenient Truth: Watch it with the whole family and then discuss it. Better yet, have a sleepover and invite other kids.
• Write a story: Sit down with your child and write a short story of an imaginary trip through the jungle. Be sure to include animals, people, plants, colors that are encountered in the journey. Afterwards, share stories and go to the library. Research how the effects of deforestation and animal poaching are damaging the rainforest.
• Make a Tire Swing: Have any old tires lying around? Objects that were destined for the garbage can be reused for entertainment.
• Recycle: Demonstrate the creative side of ordinary objects. Make a recycled flower pot. Cut-off the bottom of a 2 liter soda bottle, decorate it, and plant seeds. Tour each part of the house and talk about which products are recyclable or able to be reused. Decorate grocery bags: Get a bunch of parents and their children together in a big group. Go to the local grocery store and speak to the owner to borrow some grocery bags. Take the bags home and decorate them with ideas on how to make the earth a better place. Take them back to the grocery store to be distributed on Earth Day.
• Donate: Research an environmental cause on the internet, such as www.earthday.net and support environmental awareness campaigns.
• Talk to the Teachers: Tell them about the environmental education curriculum and greening schools programs on www.earthday.net. Encourage them to include the environment in their lesson plans. Lobby your school board to incorporate green building practices.
• Create your own Earth Day poster: Create an environmental slogan and decorate a poster. Hang the poster in a spot that will serve as a constant reminder of your pledge.
HISTORY OF EARTH DAY
In September 1969, at a conference in Seattle, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson announced that in the spring of 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration concerning the environment. The Earth Day founder first proposed the nationwide environmental protest to thrust the environment onto the national agenda. “It was a gamble,” he recalls, “but it worked.”
Five months before Earth Day 1970, The New York Times carried a lengthy article by Gladwin Hill reporting on the rising tide of environmental events:
“Rising concern about the environmental crisis is sweeping the nation’s campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam…a national day of observance of environmental problems…is being planned for next spring…when a nationwide environmental ‘teach-in’…coordinated from the office of Senator Gaylord Nelson is planned….” Senator Nelson also hired Denis Hayes as the coordinator.
Each year on April 22, Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
Among other things, 1970 in the United States brought with it the Kent State shootings, the advent of fiber optics, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Apollo 13, the Beatles’ last album, the death of Jimi Hendrix and the meltdown of fuel rods in the Savannah River nuclear plant near Aiken, South Carolina — an incident not acknowledged for 18 years.
At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. Environment was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.
But Earth Day 1970 turned that all around.
On April 22, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. Denis Hayes, the national coordinator, and his youthful staff organized massive coast-to-coast rallies.
Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States
Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts. Senator Nelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest honor given to civilians in the United States — for his role as Earth Day founder.
As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting the status of environmental issues on to the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. For 2000, Earth Day had the Internet to help link activists around the world. By the time April 22 rolled around, 5,000 environmental groups around the world were on board, reaching out to hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries. Events varied: A talking drum chain traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, for example, while hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Earth Day 2000 sent the message loud and clear that citizens the world ‘round wanted quick and decisive action on clean energy.
Founded by the organizers of the first Earth Day in 1970, Earth Day Network (www.earthday.net) promotes environmental citizenship and year round progressive action worldwide. Earth Day Network is a driving force steering environmental awareness around the world. Through Earth Day Network, activists connect, interact, and have an impact on their communities, and create positive change in local, national, and global policies. Earth Day Network’s international network reaches over 17,000 organizations in 174 countries, while the domestic program engages 5,000 groups and over 25,000 educators coordinating millions of community development and environmental protection activities throughout the year. Earth Day is the only event celebrated simultaneously around the globe by people of all backgrounds, faiths, and nationalities. More than a half billion people participate in Earth Day Network campaigns every year.