Earth Day: For the Good of All
Celebrate Earth Day with these tips to promote a greener Earth and a healthier, wealthier you.
Get your hands dirty and grow your own food with a community garden plot
Doing something good for the environment always feels right inside, but what if you did something that was also good for you? We’ve come up with a list of win-wins that will help you give Earth Day its due.
Participate in a community garden, or plant an edible landscape. Community gardens can be found throughout Central Florida (cityoforlando.net or sanfordcommunitygarden.com). If you want your own edible landscape, ask for help from local organization Fleet Farming (fleetfarming.org).
Plant a tree. Trees improve air quality, store and filter groundwater, prevent erosion, offer shade and provide habitat. Plus, planting a tree adds some good strength training and cardio to the mix. Check out Casselberry’s Earth Fest on April 27 for free tree giveaways, workshops, music and family fun.
Bike instead of drive. Ride a bike to work if you have a short commute, or hop on a bike to go to lunch. Take advantage of Orlando’s Juice Bike program (juicebikeshare.com) and rent a bike from one of about 30 stations around town for $8 an hour or up to $20 a month for regular use.
Start a carpool. Consider a LYNX vanpool (golynx.com) to save money and reduce traffic and emissions. Costs range from $490 a month for a seven-passenger van to $560 a month for a 15-passenger van. Riders share the cost of the van, gas and tolls.
Pick up garbage while walking the beach. According to EarthDay.org, about 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year. Take a garbage bag with you on your next beach walk, and burn between 65 and 100 calories per mile.
Bring your own bags to the store, every time. Plastic bags can take between 15 and 1,000 years to fully decompose. Bringing cloth bags to every store you patronize (not just the grocery store) reduces waste and can even result in shopping incentives.
Reduce your cooling costs. “OUC recommends that you set your thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer. Each degree of cooling or heating makes a big difference on your bill,” says Melissa Lucas, OUC’s sustainability manager. Also, consider a programmable thermostat, which can save you hundreds of dollars in energy costs annually.
Prevent water waste. “Regularly check your irrigation system for leaks, using your bill and looking for broken irrigation heads. For inside your home, quickly repair any leaking toilets and faucets. You can also install water-saving shower heads,” says Lucas, who recommends checking for rebates on upgrades on your utility’s website.
Recycle electronics. Enter your ZIP code at earth911.com to find municipalities and stores that recycle TVs, computers and other home electronics.
Opt for e-billing and opt out of junk mail. Paper bills and junk mail add to the landfills and also create stress. Contact your creditor about e-billing, and visit consumer.ftc.gov to find out how to put an end to junk mail.
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Switch to green personal care and cleaning products. Reduce exposure to harmful chemicals that can damage skin and hair, harm air quality, cause water pollution and cause health problems. At the top of the no-no list for personal care products are BHA, BHT, parabens and sulfates.
Create your own compost. According to seminolecountyfl.gov, you can reduce municipal waste by 8.3 pounds per person a day by composting produce scraps, coffee grounds, wood chips and grass clippings. The City of Orlando offers free composters to its residents.
Switch to LED lights. According to the Consumer Federation of America, LED bulbs last 10 years vs. one year for a halogen bulb. They’re also energy-saving, using between 75 and 80 percent less energy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.