The theme for this year’s Earth Day celebration is GREEN CITIES. What can we do to make our cities green? The truth is it’ll take a lot of effort and changes need to be made and implemented in the organizational/administrative level to make this happen. But the good news is that we can take small actions on our own as individuals, which when taken collectively can make a huge impact. Here are three very simple ways I believe can have reverberating effects on our health, and the future of our planet.
1. Go car-free for just one day
Stana Katic recently gave a speech during CicLAvia’s Open Streets Event 2014, and mentioned that if everyone on our planet went car-free for just one day, we would save 11.7 million tons of carbon-dioxide. It takes 1 billion 700 million trees, to absorb all of that CO2. So one day car-free means saving 1 billion trees. So don’t get stuck in the bubble of your car. Try alternative ways to get around:
- Walk or Cycle : The British Medical Association states that cycling 20miles a week cuts the risk of coronary heart disease in half.
- Take the public transit : American Public Transit Association estimates that those that use Public Transit in LA in 2012 saved almost $11,000 annually.
- Share a ride, Carpool with neighbors and friends : Increases social interactions, thus builds and strengthens communities.
2. Have a Meatless Monday
If you can’t live without your car, how about reducing your meat consumption? Do you know that the meat industry generates almost 1/5 of the global man-made greenhouse gas emissions? That is more than the entire transportation sector! So how exactly does cutting down on meat impact a green environment?
- Eat one less burger a week – it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for 320 miles.
- Skip meat and cheese one day a week with your family – it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for five weeks, or reducing everyone’s daily showers by 3 minutes.
- Skip steak once a week with your family – it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for nearly three months.
- And if the entire U.S. did not eat meat or cheese for just one day a week, it would be the equivalent of not driving 91 billion miles, or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.
3. Save Energy
Reducing your energy consumption will allow you to save energy, therefore save money. You get to live a greener life while protecting the planet. There is a plethora of advice on the internet on how we can do this. Mother Earth News and various other environmental awareness sites mention a few tips that can be readily done at home. Some of the more simple ones are as follows:
- switch to LED
- replace halogen lamps
- upgrade your freezer
- use less fuel
- minimize ‘Phantom Loads’ (standby power)
- install a programmable thermostat
- use fans for cooling
- conserve water
- plant trees and shrubs
If it is quite impossible for you to do the last tip – planting trees and shrubs in your backyard because you simply do not have one, or you are like me who live in an apartment that discourages having plants around, you can still do so virtually. Join the Canopy Project which plants a tree for every dollar you donate.
So, how about we stop complaining about the effects of global warming, and start doing something within our means to protect the earth. We can’t waste any more time waiting for major government policies concerning environmental sustainability to be drawn out and implemented. But we can begin right from our very homes. Now is the time to take action!