Today, April 22, 2008 marks the official Earth Day for 2008. I feel it is a travesty that only one day a year is set aside to celebrate the world’s greatest asset. I don’t claim to be an environmentalist or other radical “save the world” person. I do however, believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to care for our world the way God intended when he first created earth. If each person does just one thing to help maintain or improve the habitat we all share, it will make a huge difference globally.

Since Earth Day’s inception in 1970 Earth Day has grown at a slow pace. Only a slight number of people worldwide celebrated the beauty of the earth in the 1970’s. Today, over 1,000,000,000 participate in various activities worldwide to help improve the environments quality of life.

There are many opportunities for each one of us to contribute in small to large scale ways. One of the simplest of all is to plant a tree. Tree’s help the environment by creating oxygen and by reducing the amount of green house gas that escapes into the air, thereby reducing global warmth. It is easy to see what one task can achieve.

Recent estimates from the EPA claim that 75% of what Americans throw in the trash could be recycled. However, only 25% actually is recycled. If we, as Americans alone, could increase our recycling statistics to 35%, instead of 25%, that would reduce emissions as much as if we took 36 million cars off the roads. So, if each of us recycled 10% more than we do now, the improvement to our environment would be staggering.

Another unimaginable statistic from the government shows that the amount of wood and paper Americans throw away each year is would provide heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years. Most communities have places now that will recycle your wood products for a small fee. All you have to do is load them up and take them. The same truth can be said about paper recycling. Set a small box by your desks, at work and at home. Throw any scrap paper into these specific boxes, instead of in the garbage. I also keep a box near the trash can, so that as we go through the mail, and junk mail or catalogues can be tossed right into those. We are able to recycle at the local landfill. Check and see if yours offers the same service.

Other simple steps you can take to help stabilize and fix the environment are:

1. Instead of choosing “plastic or paper”, choose to put your groceries in reusable cloth bags. Not only will they withstand more weight than plastic or paper, without ripping, but they can be used over and over.

2. Instead of using your dryer to dry clothes, hang them outside in the sunshine. If you must use your dryer, use it only long enough to remove the wrinkles from clothes, about 15 minutes. Then hang them to complete the drying process, either indoors on hangers or again, outside on a clothes line. I love the smell of clothes after they come in from being hung outdoors. It is a freshness that no dryer sheet can provide.

3. Several tips when buying groceries are: first buy fresh whenever possible. Local Farmer’s Markets are great sources for produce and other homemade items. Not only does it support local families and the community, but it also insures that you are not paying for the packaging which damages the environment and fills the dumpsters. In the store, look for the products that have the least amount of extra packaging materials. Organic foods are expensive, but the price is coming down slowly. If you can buy organic. Organic products are made without harmful pesticides and other earth endangering chemicals.

4. If you are a candle lover, purchase soy or beeswax candles. Most candles on the market today are made of petroleum byproducts. That is why you see black smoke when you first light the candle and black soot when you blow the candle out. Petroleum byproducts, even those from a simple candle, pollute our air.

There are many other ways in which one small change in your lifestyle could have a huge impact on the earth. Let’s not use just one day to celebrate Mother Earth, but use the rest of our lives trying to protect and improve upon the damage that has already been done. Together we can make a difference.

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