April 22nd marks the 43rd annual Earth Day, where millions of people worldwide come together to promote environmental issues and inspire activism on behalf of the earth and its inhabitants. Some people use this day to host festivals or clean up river beds or start a recycling program. Others pass around petitions to curb climate change or protect endangered species. There is no “right way” to observe Earth Day. And while big events and gestures are important, I like to think that every day is—and should be—Earth Day.
Being green is easier and cheaper than you think! It isn’t about buying the newest and “greenest” stuff, but rather about adapting our lives to be more sustainable. The smallest changes to our everyday habits can have a massive impact on the planet. Still need a little more encouragement? Many of the tips I have included in this post are beneficial not only to the environment, but also to your communities, your health, and your wallet.
Consider human-powered transportation (like walking or riding a bike) when possible. Even taking the stairs instead of the elevator saves energy. Carpooling and consolidating errands will also help reduce pollution.
One of the simplest and healthiest actions you can take for the environment is to reduce your consumption of meat and animal products. Afraid to take the vegetarian/vegan plunge? Try eating a few meatless meals every week.
Grabbing a cup of coffee or tea? Bringing your own travel mug not only helps reduce waste, but many places (including our own cafeteria) won’t charge you full price.
Use reusable containers when bringing your lunch to work or school. Plastic sandwich bags can be washed and reused many times, too.
Like many people trying to live a little greener, you may have started buying from the bulk bins. But don’t waste your money on expensive canisters, reuse those tomato sauce and jelly jars! Just be sure they are washed and dried before refilling them.
With summer just around the corner, many local farmers’ markets are beginning to open. Buying locally grown foods will not only help the environment, but will also help your community’s farmers and growers.
Have some unused space in your yard? On your counter? Consider growing some of your favorite foods. Most herbs can easily be grown in pots and kept in a sunny window. Afraid to start plants from seed? Many farmers’ markets also sell plants!
Want to leave a legacy? Plant a tree! A tree cleans the air, holds the soil in place, and can even cool your house.
Please don’t litter! Plastic wrappers and other trash can wreak havoc on an ecosystem; 6-pack rings and even wads of gum can maim and kill wildlife.
Once your electronics are charged, unplug your charger from the outlet. The charger will continue to use (and waste) electricity.
REDUCE! REUSE! RECYCLE!
And lastly (and thank you for making it this far), get involved! There are many local, national, and international organizations that are working to protect our environment. If there is a cause that interests you, do a little research. You’d be amazed at some of the work being done in the world today.
And here is a YouTube clip from a 90s cartoon that really inspired me to be an environmentalist: Captain Planet and the Planeteers! For a really catchy theme song, listen to the closing credits.
A new blogger has joined our ranks – Roslyn Broch! Take it away Roz:
In order to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources, the United Nations (UN) declared March 22, 1993, to be the first World Water Day. Since that inaugural celebration, each year has been designated a theme to raise aware awareness of various water-related issues. These issues range from water security to sanitation to the cultural importance of water. This year’s theme is water cooperation, a foundation for peace and sustainable development. For more information on this year’s theme and events happening around the globe, visit the UN’s website for World Water Day 2013.
As this year’s World Water Day approaches, it is an excellent time to think about the importance of freshwater in our everyday lives and what we can do to protect our ever-dwindling resources for future generations. So on March 22, 2013, please remember that even the smallest changes to our habits can save thousands of gallons of freshwater from going to waste.
Here are three quick and easy ways to reduce your water consumption this year:
Run your washing machine and dishwater only when they are full. It can save 1,000 gallons of water per month
Shorten your shower by just a few minutes and you’ll save over 150 gallons per month
Turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth can save 25 gallons per month
For more water-saving and green tips, check out these websites:
After two weeks, BCC is 21st out of 228 colleges and universities. Our current recycling rate is 56% which is up from last year’s rate, but our goal, as part of the Zero Waste initiative, is to get to 60% this year, so every bit of help is appreciated. (In 2010 we had a 45% rate – we can do this).
Recyclemania starts on February 3. We’re going to have a hard time topping our placement last year (see below).
But we can start by reviewing what we can and cannot recycle on campus. For example, a lot of people don’t realize that you can recycle flatboard (the kind of material cereal boxes are made of) along with the office paper. Or that corrugated cardboard (the kind of material packing boxes are made of) has to be recycled separately from office paper. For a refresher, check out the Recycling page. Here’s to a great competition!
The final results are in for the Recyclemania Tournament, and BCC finished 17th in the nation out of 266 colleges and universities, with a 55.5% recycling rate (a jump from 26th in the nation last year). We finished 2nd out of 24 schools in the state of Massachusetts. Congratulations to the Mass Maritime Academy (#1 in Massachusetts and #3 in the nation with an 82% recycling rate). And congratulations to American University (#1 overall with an 85% recycling rate). During the “offseason” we’ll try to come up with ways to improve to a 60% recycling rate next year. We’ll also be “recruiting” for ideas (contact me or leave a comment in this site).
The Center for EcoTechnology (CET) has been in existence since 1976 engaging in work that demonstrates and promotes practical, affordable solutions to the environmental challenges encountered in our daily activities. They offer all types of services and opportunities to the public as part of their mission. To see more about their upcoming events, follow this link:
As you walk around campus and see the multitude of small blue paper recycling buckets, have you ever wondered where the paper that you put in them goes?
Here at BCC, we have a contract with CET, the Center for EcoTechnology (www.cetonline.org). Each week, they come and pick up the large plastic plastic toters of paper we recycle and bring it to Erving Industries in Erving, MA. There, it is recycled into tissue and other papers. Jamie Cahillane, who works as the Manager of Recycling Services and Waste Reduction at CET, sits on our campus Green Team and recently went to the Erving Industries facility. He’s forwarded on some pictures so we can see where the paper we recycle at here at the College winds up. Enjoy!
NOTE: You click on the thumbnails below to get a larger more detailed image.
Well, we are in the middle of Week 8 – the last week of RecycleMania. So, if you have any files you plan to clean out anyway, if you get them into recycling bins by Friday afternoon, they will be counted in our Week 8 total. The Week 6 results are now posted, and BCC is holding strong at #15 in the nation, with a 58% recycling rate… Thanks to all the support this has had – it looks like we may be able to beat the goals we set for ourselves! (Our goals were to get into the Top 25, and to get to a 55% recycling rate).
We’re still going strong – the Week 5 Results were posted yesterday, and BCC is #15 in the nation with a 58% recycling rate.
You may be wondering – how does this benefit BCC? After all, there is no “prize” – only recognition. But the main benefit is what our monitoring and reporting tells us about our own waste stream. For example, over the last few years, we’ve learned that we needed fewer trash dumpsters and fewer pickups by Allied Waste. We also increased pickups of most recyclables. The net result is that BCC saved several thousand dollars a year.