When I was growing up, I equated Earth Day with planting trees. In elementary school, we would each get a Douglas fir sapling planted in a plastic pouch. Year after year, the row of fir trees in our backyard increased by one, and year after year, I learned that Earth Day was about giving back (in tree-form) to nature.
As an adult, my understanding of Earth Day has changed. With the recent movements on sustainability, energy efficiency, and being mindful of global warming, the ways of giving back to our natural environment are too many to count.
At work, using fewer materials is an easy way to help our environment. Printing double-sided, or choosing not to print, reduces the amount of paper used, and ultimately reduces the amount of waste. Recycling paper, plastics, ink and toner cartridges helps reduce the amount of post-consumer waste in our landfills. To reduce the amount of energy used, turn off electronic devices at the end of the day, or even over the lunch hour.
At home, there are a lot of easy ways to help our environment. Changing from incandescent light bulbs to CFL or LED not only decreases the amount of energy used, but also will cost less to operate. Opening windows instead of running the air conditioning, turning off lights when leaving a room, and turning down the heat while away from home are also ways to reduce energy.
This past weekend, I went on my annual spring kayaking trip inTioga County. We paddled about 12 miles, did some fishing, camped overnight, and left the next day. It’s amazing how different things are when you’re so far from the city. You see every star in the sky at night, see crystal clear streams, watch deer running through the woods, and even catch a glimpse of our National Bird perched in a tree overhead. Not only was it a peaceful (but cold) weekend on the water, but I got a reminder of the things we’re trying to protect by practicing Earth Day, every day.