I figured that since everyone else was talking about the environment last week, since last week was Earth Day, that I would be original and give my thoughts this week. I have never been environmentally conscious, (I know I know I am awful) but after watching all the specials for Earth Day, I am a changed woman.

Classic Green

I was always frustrated by the fact that people would preach and preach about how we need to help the environment (don’t get me wrong I agree), but then when you try asking how you can help you get answers like “Buy Green Products” (which are double the price), “buy energy saving light bulbs” (that cost $40 apiece), “Start a compost pile” (really?) “take public transportation” (not really an option I live in the suburbs) Those answers didn’t satisfy me and actually made me feel defeated because most of the ways people tell you to save the planet is by doing things the average person just isn’t going to do (sad but true).

This Earth Day – I Have Seen the Light

Fast forward to Earth Day 2009. I have been inspired. Oprah did a show on Earth day titled “Earth Day 2009: Go Green, save money“. Wow…this would be what Oprah calls and AHA moment. There was this whole segment about the fact that there is a garbage dump the size of TEXAS floating out in the Pacific Ocean. The pictures were shocking! The below quote is from Oprah.com

Currently, scientists believe the world’s largest garbage dump isn’t on land…it’s in the Pacific Ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch stretches from the coast of California to Japan, and it’s estimated to be twice the size of Texas. “This is the most shocking thing I have seen,” Oprah says.

In some places, the floating debris—estimated to be about 90 percent plastic—goes 90 feet deep. Elsewhere, there are six times more pieces of plastic than plankton, the main food source for many sea animals.

Where did this trash come from? Marine biologists estimate that about 80 percent of the litter is from land, either dumped directly into waterways or blown into rivers and streams from states as far away as Iowa….

This baffled me. I always knew that there was problems with trash and pollution, but seeing pictures of it and being described in that way really made it hit home. Also on the show they told of easy everyday ways that you can help. This is what I liked the most. It made me feel that I could make a difference.

These are the Things I found that I Can Do:

  1. Recycle: This is a big one. Recycling is easy. We already have recycle pick up in our neighborhood and I just never did it. I always thought it was just cans and bottles but it turns out that I can recycle paper and plastic bottles also. I actually got a little angry because I went with my husband to Home Depot to buy a recycle can, and they tried charging me $31 for it! I was like ” so I am trying to do a good deed and you are going to make that ridiculous profit!” So I didn’t buy it and went to my town and they are sending me a free one.
  2. Reusable bags: This one is going to be tricky and take some time, but I think this will be very helpful. On the show they said that countries such as Ireland are charging $.33/plastic bag in grocery stores. I think that is a great way to make people think twice about using the plastic bags. I know I would! Most of the time it’s just pure laziness that I use them. So now I am going to make an effort to bring my own reusable bags!
  3. Microfiber cloths: When I sat and thought about the amount of paper towels I use daily it was ridiculous. It is actually pretty unnecessary too! If I just took the time to use a microfiber cloth to dust and clean instead of the paper towels, I could save a lot!
  4. Thermostat watch: I have a programmable thermostat that you can set each day. It is said that for every degree you lower your thermostat, you save 1% of your energy bill. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s something. And what is 1 degree??? So I am going to try to keep my thermostat 1 degree higher than I normally would in the summer and 1 degree lower in the winter. It’s a start!
  5. Smart Power strip: This is something my husband already found. This device fully turns off all of your electrical items that are plugged into it. They say that even if you leave your cell phone plugged in you are still pulling electricity. This stops that. We have our TV, DVR, Surround sound, and DVD player plugged into it. When we just shut off the TV everything else fully shuts down. It’s great!
  6. Stop Buying Bottled Water! : I don’t normally buy bottled water but this one is HUGE! Just think of all that plastic that is thrown away each year by people drinking from bottled water. And think about it…when did bottled water become popular anyway?? I mean if you told me 15 years ago that I’d be paying $2/bottle of water I would say you’re crazy! We always drank from the tap? Now there are tons of products out there that purify water. Try a Britta Filter water pitcher, and fill up reusable water bottles when you go to work. It’s worth a try right?

In reality this list isn’t much, but at least it’s something. Can you imagine what a difference it would be if everyone made just one change in their wasteful lifestyle? So let’s go people! Get inspired like I was! In our own way we can all make a difference. What do you do that helps the environment! Let’s share here so everyone can find what works best for them!