On April 22, 1970, 20 million people across America celebrated the first Earth Day. It was a time when cities were buried under their own smog and polluted rivers caught fire. Now Earth Day is celebrated annually around the globe. Through the combined efforts of the U.S. government, grassroots organizations, and citizens like you, what started as a day of national environmental recognition has evolved into a world-wide campaign to protect our global environment.
The following are several tips and fun ways to protect the environment and your health every day.
* Reduce your carbon footprint. Leaving your car at home twice a week can cut greenhouse gas emissions over 1,500 pounds per year.
* Don't idle. Remind your school system to turn off bus engines when buses are parked to eliminate harmful exhaust pollution.
* It's electric. Check how much of your electricity comes from renewable sources, like wind, solar. Then find green power options available to you.
* Tread lightly. Commuting without polluting! Use public transportation, carpool, walk or bike whenever possible to reduce air pollution and save on fuel costs.
* Make the switch. Buy or switch to energy efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs. Look for the EnergyStar label to help save you money on energy bills and pollute less.
* eCycle it. Take your old computer, DVD player or other electronics to a recycling center. This helps keep hazardous substances out of the landfill.
* Everyone can make a difference. High school students can study links between everyday actions at their high school, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
* Make your home an Energy Star! As you start your spring cleaning, do a home energy audit and switch to EnergyStar products.
Efficient water use
* Make it a full load. Run your dishwasher only when it's full; use the rinse-and-hold dishwasher feature until you're ready to run a full load.
* Be sensible. Buy water-efficient fixtures and products. The WaterSense label helps shoppers identify water efficient products and programs.
* Shower power. A full bath tub requires about 70 gallons of water, while taking a five-minute shower saves water by using 10 to 25 gallons.
* Don't be a drip, fix that leak. Leaky faucets can waste thousands of gallons of water each year, like money down the drain. Repair or replace old or damaged fixtures.
* Fill 'er up! Make it a full load. The average washing machine uses 40. 9 gallons of water per load. Buy a high-efficiency washer or save up for full loads.
The three Rs—reduce, reuse and recycle
* Compost it. Allow grass clippings to stay on the lawn, instead of bagging them. The cut grass will decompose and return to the soil naturally.
* Proper maintenance reduces waste. Maintain and repair products. Keep appliances in good working order. Follow manufacturers' suggestions for proper operation and maintenance.
* Don't trash it--reuse it! Be creative about reducing waste. Give pet hamsters or gerbils cardboard tubes to play with. Use an egg carton to plant seedlings.
* Just bag it. Take reusable bags on shopping trips. Keep them in your car or near your door to remember. You can also reuse paper or plastic shopping bags.
* Wait for the storm to pass. Don’t fertilize before a rain storm. Your fertilizer--along with your money--washes down storm drains and can pollute rivers and bays.
* Compost it. When properly composted, kitchen wastes can become natural soil additives for lawns, gardens and even house plants.
* Travel green. When you travel, stay at hotels that use less water or energy. Before you go, unplug your VCR or other electronics that use electricity even when off.
Protect your environment
* Be the first to know. Protect yourself! In summer, always apply sun block SPF 15 or more to protect your skin from solar UV radiation.
* Check before you go. Find out the quality of beach water before you go. Check with your state office to be sure you will enjoy your visit to the beach.
* Environmental hazards and the elderly. Be extra aware of conditions where older people live. As we age, our bodies become more sensitive to chemicals and environmental conditions.
* Read the label. Use pesticides safely, whether at home or in the field. Always follow the instructions on the can or container label--it's the law.
* Don't top off! During hot weather, don't top off your gas tank. Even a small gas spill adds to air pollution and wastes fuel.
* Don't let waste run off! You can reduce polluted storm water runoff--simply pick up your pet’s waste; don't leave it to wash away after a rain.
* Use clean diesel. Encourage your hometown or state to spend road construction money on the cleanest equipment for air quality.
* Compliance made easy. Farmers, mechanics and other businesses can help protect the environment by better understanding environmental requirements.
* Celebrate Earth Day! Exercising outdoors? Use your local air quality forecast to help plan the best time for a workout or run.
* Breathe easy. On unhealthy air pollution action alert days, wait to mow your lawn until it's cooler in the evening or early the next morning.
* Play it safe. Protect children from poisoning by household chemicals such as bug spray. Lock pesticides and chemicals safely away from children.
U.S Environmental Protection Agency, April 22, 2008