Friday, April 22, 2011
12 big Earth Day Steps to save water & energy, protect species, eat healthy, protect habitats
Happy Earth Day! 12 Tips Plus
This is the year I'll...catch rainwater in barrels to irrigate the garden. All I need is a hacksaw to shorten a downspout from the roof gutter, and a jolly big rainbarrel like this one, from my Whole Living Earth Day article, 12 Ways to Go Green This Year. Two big green impacts: I’ll save the average 1,300 gallons of drinking water splurged on a thirsty garden each season, and reduce stormwater runoff, which washes garbage, toxic chemicals and pathogens out to sea. Case in point: Last week, surfing after a heavy rain, I caught a virus and wound up in the emergency room! Another big plus: Reducing our water bill.
By now, you’ve probably made many small steps into good green habits, from recycling and reusing to choosing (or mixing your own )green cleaners. Are you ready to try a bigger green step this year? Check out Whole Living's slide show for the eleven other steps, from buying local seasonal produce (with a chart) to composting with a worm bin. We also provide how-to’s, and a readout of the relative effort and impact each step entails. You can also calculate your shrinking carbon footprint (step 2). Take your pick, and let us know how it goes!
Why I chose rainwater catchment for my big step this year: Last night, Earth Day eve, I was on a panel with marine biologist Crystal Sanders and Environmental Defense attorney Cynthia Koehler at the Aquarium of the Bay. The Aquarium is built on Pier 39 in San Francisco Bay, and the evening’s theme was how to protect this vast estuary and the fresh and ocean water systems that flow into and out of it. Crystal talked about how overfishing and pollution contribute to shocks such as the recent collapse of the herring populations in the Bay, and Cynthia, EDF’s political director for water issues, stressed the need to conserve fresh water so that more of it can be returned to important fish spawning and nursery grounds such as the San Francisco San Joaquin delta that feeds the SF Bay. The Bay, Cynthia pointed out, used to be the largest wild salmon fishery in California until all the rivers were dammed; EDF and others are seeking legislation to restore riverrine systems.
By reducing consumer demand for water and upping consumer demand for plant-based, nontoxic green products and sustainably sourced fish from healthy populations, we can help restore the cleanliness and productivity of our rivers, bays and seas.
What You Can Do
*xeriscaping in the garden with native drought-resistant plants
*buying produce from local and organic farms that protect waterways with buffer crops and sound ecological management policies
*fixing your water flow with EPA WaterSense fixtures, low-flush toilets, shorter showers, and rainwater catchment.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
*asking where seafood comes from and how it was caught, and choosing sustainable fish picks.
*choosing plant- not petroleum-based cleaning and personal care products.
Of particular urgency right now is supporting bills to ban the cruel practice of culling shark fins and throwing these endangered creatures back to die slow agonized deaths.
Some Recommended Products
Thanks to donations from green companies, all attendees were given examples of products that met my criteria for least-toxic ingredients and gentlest eco impact.
* Wild Planet sustainably sourced, low-mercury albacore tuna and other seafoods
* Dr. Bronner’s peppermint liquid soap (certified organic plant oils, certified fair trade); great for deterring ants & garden pests, too!
* Equal Exchange certified organic and fairly traded chocolate and tea
*Martha Stewart CLEAN Dish/Hand soap
*Endangered Wildlife organic lip balms, which also give 25% of profits to the Center for biological diversity
Last but never least, great green thanks to:
*Whole Living, which cosponsored the event, giving Earth Day issues to all plus very popular raffle prizes: “This is the Year I’ll...” t-shirts and seven year’s subscriptions
*Aquarium of the Bay and its team of cheerful, warm, lateworking staff for providing the space and free Aquarium tours (and stocking their gift shop with my green living book)
*Royal Hawaiian Seafood Co.
Whole Foods Markets and
Farallon Restaurant for providing sustainable seafood (ah, those Oregon rock shrimp!); cheese, crackers & veggies; and divine organic carrot and chocolate cakes, respectively.
EDF and Oceana for providing social networking support and expertise for this event and your great collaborative work in support of our precious seas.
Thank you one and all, and Happy Earth Year!