|Earth Day 2017|
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We Must Act
Every day I worry more and more about our planet. The new administration, packed with science deniers, is gutting the EPA, rolling back environmental regulations, and now there's talk about backing out of the Paris Agreement. So we can no longer look to our government to protect our planet. It's never been more important to take matters into our own hands. Instead of feeling helpless, there are things we as individuals can do to protect the planet. If enough of us do these things, they will certainly make an impact. Here are 5 things we can do.
#1 - Eat More Plants and Less Meat
Many people become vegans because of health reasons or because of their love of animals. A growing number are avoiding animal products for environmental reasons. Becoming vegan is a huge commitment, one many are not willing to do. But let me be clear, you don't have to become a vegan to make a significant difference in the environment. If a person who consumes the national average of 200+ pounds of meat each year cuts their meat consumption in half or even a third, that's a much bigger deal than a person who eats only 20 pounds of meat each year becoming a strict vegan. Whatever your level of commitment is, eating less meat helps the environment. Here's why:
* It take 12 times as much land, 13 times as much fossil fuel, and 15 times as much water to produce one pound of meat vs. one pound of soy protein.
* Raising animals for food now uses 30% of the earth's land mass.
* 70% of the grain grown is fed to farm animals.
* Nearly 70% of deforested land in the Amazon is now cattle pasture.
So if every meat eater ate a few less meat meals a week, it could make a huge difference in the worldwide consumption of meat.
#2 - Mindful Driving
Not everyone is willing to or can afford to ditch their car for a hybrid or electric vehicle but there are certainly things you can do to reduce greenhouse emissions. Transportation is just behind electricity with respect to generating greenhouse gases .
* Walk or bike when possible.
* Combine trips. Plan your outings to get as many quick stops in one trip. Why? Pollution emissions are 2-8 times higher per mile in the first 5 minutes of running your car because the system is cold. Limit stops to 15 minutes if possible to keep your catalytic converter warm.
* According to the US department of energy:
- Fixing a car that's out of tune can improve gas mileage by 4%.
- Fixing a serious problem, like a bad oxygen sensor, can improve mileage up to 40%.
- Properly inflated tires can improve mileage .6% to 4%.
- Using the proper motor oil can improve mileage 1% to 2%.
#3 - Save Energy at Home
One of my corporate staff jobs at IBM headquarters was in the Corporate Energy Department. We did energy audits of each site and made recommendations. Many of these were fairly simple and the saving resulted in millions of dollars. It's pretty simple to find things to do in your home to realize great savings. Here are a few:
* Replacing your lightbulbs with LED's can reduce energy up to 75%.
* Turn off the lights when you're not using them.
* Use motion detectors or timers on outdoor lights.
* Clean your furnace and air conditioner filters.
* Ventilate your attic.
* Install new weather stripping.
* Get a more efficient water heater or set to a lower setting.
* Set your refrigerator to the proper settings.
* Let food cool before you put it in the refrigerator.
* Use a pressure cooker for shorter cooking times.
* Unplug electronics when not in use.
* Install solar panels if possible. There are solar programs in some states that do not require you to outlay any money.
# 4 - Save Water
Although it's over now, we've had a drought in California for the past 5 years, so we're pretty conscious of water usage. Here are a few things you can do to save water:
* Replace your lawn with drought resistant plants.
* Don't hand-wash dishes. You use 1/6 the amount of water by running a full load in the dishwasher.
* Install a low-flow shower head. This can save almost half of the water used during your shower. And take shorter showers.
* Don't run the water when you are brushing your teeth or shaving.
* Use drip irrigation in your garden.
* Check faucets and toilets for leaks.
* Run full loads for clothes and dishes.
#5 - Buy Local and Organic
Think twice before you eat that cantaloupe from Chile or buy a bottle of wine from another continent. Shipping produce can rack up the miles. The average American meal travels 1,500 miles to get from farm to plate. So visit your farmer's market or, better yet, rip up your lawn and put in your own organic vegetable garden.
Whether you are buying food or growing your own, select organic food, especially when eating The Dirty Dozen (strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, and hot peppers). Consuming organic food is not only healthier for you, but organic farming is healthier for the planet.
* Organic farming promotes biodiversity of the soil. Synthetic chemicals and pesticides kill good bacteria, fungi, and earthworms.
* It also prevents hazardous chemicals from entering our groundwater and streams.
I hope this gave you a few ideas on how you can help save the planet. Happy Earth Day!