Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day Birthday, What are We Worth Day?

by Felicia Donovan

earthdayI'm honored to be "up at bat" on such an auspicious day - the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

I never realized that Earth Day has been celebrated for so long. According to Wikipedia, It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in, beginning on April 22, 1970. Wow, 1970. I remember (though I was very, very young) that anyone who cared that much about the environment back then was considered a "hippy." Groovy, Man.

Fast forward forty years and we've become a nation where weekly recycling has pretty much become the norm, where we can buy organic sheets, rubberized bark mulch, and head to the market with our reusable bags.

The efforts made since then are staggering considering the facts:

  • In the US 33.4% of solid waste is either recycled or composted.
  • The amount of recycling in 2007 alone saved the energy equivalent of 10.7 billion gallons of gasoline and prevented the release of carbon dioxide of approximately 35 million cars.
  • That's a lot of progress, but here's the fact I like best:

    • Recycling 1 plastic bottle not only saves anywhere from 100 to 1000 years in the landfill, but also saves the environment from the emissions in producing new bottles as well as the oil used to produce that bottle.

    That's one bottle. That I can and do recycle with little effort, even when out in public.

    For me, Earth Day is not so much about the millions conserved and the percentage of reduction in this emission or that resource. For me, Earth Day is more about the little plastic pull-back tab on the creamer bottle that I still need to consciously remind myself to rinse and put in with the rest of the plastic goods. I believe we're all worth that small effort, as are my children, their children and all that are to come.

    What is it worth to you?


    Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

    Nice post, Felicia. I remember the first Earth Day well. I was a senior in high school and there was a big kick-off for it. Now recyling has become a way of life. The water bottle thing is something I took to easily. I carry a reusable bottle with me most of the time and seldom buy bottled water. It's cheaper too! Many of us where I live collect our redeemable soda bottles and cans and leave them in bags in the alley for the folks who collect and turn them in. Saves us a trip to the recyling center and saves those folks from dumpster diving. It's amazing how a little effort can go a long way.

    G.M. Malliet said...

    It is amazing to me how much recyclable stuff comes out of our (small) household every week, week in, week out. It is a wonder the poor old earth survived without recycling for so long.

    Cricket McRae said...

    Great post! Where I live they pick up recycling weekly, including plastics 1 to 7. Between that and composting, we generate a very small amount of garbage each week -- which goes out in a biodegradeable bag. ;-)

    This site helped me cut way down on the number of catalogs I get.

    And here's some information about why it's so vital to recycle aluminum.

    Happy Earth Day
    Hearth Cricket

    G.M. Malliet said...

    Great tip, Cricket. Thanks. I'm going to go check it out.

    Darrell James said...

    Great post, Felicia! Like you, it's surprising to me that many have been beating the environmental drum for so long. These days our recycle bin is always three times as full as our trash bin. Still, we need a reminder to be vigilent... thanks for that reminder!