Celebrate Earth Month – The Future is Now.

There’s a young student at my work that told me she was going to save the planet in the future. I replied back to her, “why not start saving it now? YOU are the future of the planet”. She thought about what I said for a few moments, nodded sagely, and said she would do “just that”. I can’t begin to tell you how happy and proud I felt at that child’s declaration. Though she is young, she has the right idea and a bright future of hope, love, and kindness ahead of her.

If all it took were courageous promises from young children to make our world a better place, then we might yet have hope for the future. Children have no preconceptions of how something should be. They either do it or they don’t. And while an adult can make just as magnanimous a promise, we often hesitate based on past experiences or preconceived judgment from others. But everyone can have hope for a brighter and better planet. Everyone can do their part – whether small or gigantic – to help heal our planet and hopefully give our children, our children’s children, and their future children a promise for a healthier world.

This year, as we celebrate Earth Day on April 22, let’s make a promise to do one small act. One act of kindness for our planet, our environment, our world. Whether it’s eliminating single use plastics in your lives or saving paper by using less, any small step can eventually lead to bigger steps. Our actions are like waves in the ocean: one ripple can carry through the entire planet.

Earth Month, or Earth Day can be celebrated in many ways. Below are some popular ideas and tried and true suggestions, but feel free to come up with some of your own. Get your family and friends to perform these acts of kindness for our planet and the impact will be even greater and worthwhile. Get your children involved. Get other children involved. For they ARE our future.

10 Acts of Kindness for our planet on Earth Day:

  • Reduce your intake of meat. In a 2018 report, a typical home in America can produce 8.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually through their food and energy consumption. 83 percent of that CO2 is related to food production. If you give up meat (such as beef, pork, and lamb) for just one week, you can reduce your carbon footprint by between 2,541 and 783 pounds a year!  WHAT YOU CAN DO: Bring a salad to work for lunch or have salad for dinner at home. If you’re not the salad type, you can reduce meat consumption other ways such as skipping meat in the household one week per month or every other month. Try meat alternatives such as soy, Tempeh, and legumes. While every food still produces energy and carbon footprint, plant based food produces much less and has long term health benefits. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: Being a vegetarian is not for everyone. Heck, it took me a few years off from being a vegetarian to realize how great it felt to not eat meat again. But that’s me though and I made changes to fit my own lifestyle throughout the years. But you CAN do it! Just start small – one day a week of no meat can already make a great impact. Or even replace one meal each day for a week. You can choose either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Do you really need that slice of bacon in the morning? Or those sliced chicken in your salad at lunch? Or even a heavy piece of grilled steak for dinner? There are lots of innovative and DELICIOUS vegetarian style fare around you. Try it out!

  • Grow your own garden. Having your own garden – whether it’s a small patch in your backyard or acres worth – helps you control what you grow and what you eat. It also drastically reduces carbon footprint because you aren’t contributing to transportation of market produce and having to drive to the market for fresh vegetables. Imagine stepping outside your yard and picking out some freshly grown snap peas or plucking out a juicy carrot. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Decide where you want to grow your vegetable garden. Find a sunny spot but with access to shade during the day. Decide if you want a raised garden bed, in ground, or in planters. Many fruits and vegetables thrive exceedingly well in planters so don’t let small spaces deter you. Then decide what you want to grow. Check with your local nursery to see what’s in season. Decide how much you want to save and spend on your vegetable garden. Plan your growing season accordingly so that you can always have fresh vegetables. The easiest to grow and manage vegetables are: carrots, radish, tomatoes, snap peas, lettuce, herbs, cucumbers, squash, and corn. Be wary of certain types of bugs that like to enjoy your harvest and use only natural pesticides if necessary. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: Gardening is truly the easiest and best way to stay healthy. It’s great exercise and you get to enjoy your bounty. Start off with a couple of large planters, good potting soil, and either seeds or seedlings. Pick easy to grow plants such as carrots and cucumbers or flowers such as sunflowers and lavender. Then, once you get the hang of it, continue with the growth of your garden and soon you will see blooms of delicious vegetables and beautiful flowers!

  • Reduce or eliminate single use plastic. Single use plastic means plastic that are used only once and then thrown away. These include plastic cups, straws, and plastic grocery bags. Remember that recycling is the LAST resort. As our planet starts to deteriorate faster than it can heal itself, we must all do our part in preserving our precious environment. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Stock up on reusable shopping bags made from recycled materials. Keep a few in the trunk of your car so you don’t forget when you’re out shopping. Eliminate the use of unnecessary straws. While you may think that one or two straws while you’re out drinking a beverage is no big deal, imagine you doing that ten times over in a week, a month, or even a year! And imagine 10 other people doing the same thing! You can fill up an entire swimming pool of plastic straws in a very short amount of time. Now imagine that in the ocean you swim in and admire. And imagine those plastic straws inside the fish you eat or around the necks of precious turtles and birds. Not really a pretty sight after all. You can also bring your own lunch in reusable containers. Try not to wrap your sandwiches in aluminum foil or plastic. And try using cloth napkins instead of paper. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: Actually, you CAN! It can be as simple as putting even 1 reusable bag in your purse or front seat of your car. We all forget to bring reusable bags from time to time, but if you keep it in sight then you’re likely to remember to use them. And when you’re out getting a beverage, skip the straw. Simply drink straight from your cup. Unless there are difficulties preventing you from sipping directly from the cup, then you don’t really need a straw. And when you’re out eating, try not to leave any leftovers where you feel forced to take them home. Yes, food waste is a major problem in the US, but if you can just order the proper amount you want to eat then you won’t have any leftovers. If you do want to take food home, you can always bring your own containers or ask the restaurant to pack as much food in one container as possible.

  • Plant a tree. Trees are nature’s most powerful resources. Without trees, we would not have cleaner air and the necessary eco system for animals and insects. Trees breathe in CO2 and exhale oxygen, thus helping to clean the air around it. Human bodies produce CO2 which is toxic to our environment due to the food we consume, sickness, and bad hygiene. Planting trees or having trees in your home can have many benefits beside providing clean air. Trees can reduce ozone levels and erosion. And trees can reduce heating and air conditioner costs. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Make an initiative to plant more trees. Start a tree club or group and plant more trees where fires ruined the land or in areas where trees are desperately needed. It doesn’t have to cost much to plant trees. Pick trees such as Pine, Oak, and Cypress as they have less maintenance and can live for many, many years. Just be sure to plant ones that are suitable to the region. You can also grow trees in your own yard. Find a nice shady area and water accordingly. Once established, most trees do not require a lot of water so it also helps reduce water waste. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: Planting trees might not be for everyone for whatever reasons, so start off small. Support a charity that plants trees in your honor. The Arbor Day Foundation is a great non-profit organization that plants trees for you (https://www.arborday.org/). Or if planting trees isn’t the thing for you, then you can always make monetary donations or volunteer at a tree planting organization or event.

  • Use separate bins to sort your Recycling. Most people in the US or even the world have a hard time figuring out how to recycle properly. You may think that all plastics can go in the plastic recycling bin or that not rinsing out food in containers actually hinders your recyclable containers from being recycled. All it takes are a few trash bins to sort out your waste properly. They don’t even have to be big bins or expensive ones. If you have room for them in the house, then a great visible place would be in the kitchen. Otherwise, the garage is a great place to keep them as well. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Typically, you’ll need at least 3 bins if you’re starting out: one for recyclable goods such as paper, certain plastics such as PETE #1 and #2, and glass food containers. One for beverage containers. Make sure the containers are made from recyclable materials such as aluminum, glass, and plastics made from PETE materials #1 and #2. Be sure to check with your local recycling facility to make sure they accept these materials. You can even earn money by properly recycling them. And the third bin would be for food waste. Food waste includes items that you can’t compost (a separate compost bin is another bin to add but only if you compost for your garden). Be sure to rinse out and dump out all the food scraps from your recyclable containers before putting them in the bin. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: As I mentioned above, you can start off with just 3 separate bins. Once you get into the cycle of recycling, you can add more bins such as a compost bin to be used in your yard, an electronics bin such as batteries and any broken and old cords and cables (just be sure to properly recycle these instead of throwing them away in the trash), and an “unrecyclable” bin. What goes inside an unrecyclable bin? Things that are hazardous waste materials such as paint and aerosol cans, motor oil, and anything that contains toxic chemicals. Check your local recycling centers to find out how to properly dispose them.

  • Reduce paper waste. You can reduce paper waste by printing on both sides of the paper. This should be a fairly easy thing to do. We all print out documents at one time or another. But we don’t always keep those documents either. Thus, tons of paper gets wasted if we don’t practice printing on both sides. Better yet, try not to print at all. If you can send something electronically, do so. It’s unnecessary to print something unless you need a physical copy. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Here are some suggestions for reducing paper waste – If you’re in school, ask your teacher if you can send homework electronically; proofread carefully before you print to avoid mistakes and needlessly reprinting; and Upycle paper by creating crafts, using them as scratch paper, putting them in pet pens, and using them as wrapping paper for small gifts. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: Everyone is guilty of wasting paper now and then. I work at a school and I see tons of paper being wasted. So the best advice is to remind yourself whenever you feel inclined to print something. Do you really need to print it? Or can you save the document on your computer or email the document to someone instead of mailing it?

  • Grow plants for pollinators. Natural pollinators such as bees and butterflies are so important for our eco system and our food source. Bees help pollinate food such as fruits and vegetables, wheat, and certain nuts and seeds, and of course an abundance of flowers. Pollinators also help other plants grow in rural areas or areas that desperately need plant and food crops. WHAT YOU CAN DO: The best plants for pollinators are native plants. Native plants are plants that grow in your region or area. You can search this up easily online by typing in: native plant zones. Native plants help pollinators remain in their area to support local agriculture. It also ensures that these pollinators remain healthy. Just be sure to plant as much organic as possible. Avoid using toxic pesticides for they can greatly damage the health of pollinators. Next, find plants that are specific to bees and butterflies. Best plants for pollinators are: lavender, milkweed, sunflowers, coneflower, oregano, salvia, yarrow, and many others. The best types of flowers are ones that are open with flat petals so they make easy landing places for pollinators. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: It’s fairly easy to grow plants in your garden. If you live in an apartment or somewhere that prevents you from having a garden, then try container gardening. Even if it’s a few planters outside your front door or windowsill will help these important pollinators. Many plants thrive well in planters so don’t let space hinder you! And if you have a well, black thumb, then consider growing minimalist plants such as herbs and succulents. As long as these types of plants flower, then you’ll likely find bees and butterflies roaming around them.

  • Walk, ride bicycles, or carpool. We have become so dependent on our motor vehicles that we tend to forget they cause a majority of pollution on our planet. Reducing our carbon footprint is essential in helping our planet heal and replenish. Whenever we can walk or use non-engine types of vehicles such as bicycles and skateboards to get around, we are helping to reduce pollution and carbon dioxide as well as living a healthier lifestyle. WHAT YOU CAN DO: If you live close enough to your work, then consider riding your bicycle, walk, or even taking local transit. If you live too far, then try carpooling with a nearby co-worker and take turns driving. Try walking or bicycling to your nearest grocery store instead of driving. And try to buy all your groceries and personal necessities in one trip to avoid the unnecessary multiple trips to the store. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: It really does take determination to reduce your carbon footprint. Not everyone is able to walk, ride, or carpool around town but if you can eliminate even one day of not using your motor vehicle, you are lessening the impact of your carbon footprint.

  • Use non-toxic cleaners. Toxic cleaners are the ones that have ingredients you can barely pronounce and a list that goes a mile long. These man-made cleaning agents do more harm than good to the environment, your health, and your property. Harsh cleansing agents actually break down compounds making them weak and fragile. Whenever possible, use natural cleaners or make some of your own. Great cleaning agents that are non-toxic and have proven results are vinegar, lemon, and salt. Essential oils from plants are also great for cleaning and detoxifying germy areas. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Invest in some really good and high quality natural cleaners. My favorites (that are also cruelty-free) are: Earth Friendly Products or ECOS, Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, and Ecover, to name a few. If you want to make your own, try using baking soda, vinegar, and add in essential oils of lavender, mint, or thyme. Many essential oils have wondrous healing and antibacterial properties plus they add a nice, natural scent to your homemade cleaners. BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: Non-toxic cleaners ARE a thing! Some people may be skeptic to the efficacy of all natural cleaners but lab and home testing results have proven how effective they are. In fact, due to their natural ingredients that work with nature, they can prevent breaking down of certain materials that can otherwise get damaged by harsher cleaning agents. Non-toxic cleaners are also important if you have allergies and are sensitive to certain ingredients and scents. If you’re stuck on using the typical conventional cleaners, try using just one natural cleaner to start with and see how they work out for you.

  • Use natural beauty products. This one should be fairly easy to take on. I’ve been using natural beauty products for over 20 years and I noticed a huge difference in how my skin and body feels and looks. It might take a few times of using the product to see a noticeable difference and that’s because natural products use ingredients that work with your body and build up a natural balance rather than just temporarily hiding it or masking the problems. In time, your body will be in tune with the natural ingredients and the products you use so that your skin and your body will actually reject the harsher, non-natural products. Sounds crazy right? Natural beauty products are also gentler on the planet because they do not leave toxic residue in landfills and oceans. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Check out EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) (https://www.ewg.org/) database on natural beauty products. They help range over 70,000 beauty products on the level of toxicity. After you’ve had a chance to check out the database, head on over to your local beauty supply store or search online. Typically, the natural beauty product brands do not cause any adverse reactions but always check the ingredients list and try a sample if possible. My current favorite beauty brands are SIBU, Pangea Organics, Andalou Naturals, and Aveda (certain ingredients in their products might cause allergic reactions to some users). BUT WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT?: There’s no such thing as using something that’s not natural. Even washing your hands in just water is natural. We all want to live a healthier lifestyle right? Then using non-toxic ingredients on our face, our body, and in our hair should be simple enough. Natural beauty products aren’t necessarily expensive and you can even make your own products. Start off on something small as switching to a more natural shampoo or using an essential oil blend as a moisturizer. Since I’ve been using natural beauty products for so many years, I get an immediate adverse reaction if I happen to use something that isn’t natural. It’s due to my skin going back to it’s original state when we were younger and didn’t need or want beauty products on our skin. You can be as scientific as you want, but it all comes down to letting your skin and your body readjust to a gentler and safer beauty routine.

This year, as we celebrate Earth Day, consider making a positive change for the environment. We all want to live with cleaner air and healthier food and we want to ensure that our children’s children and their future generations will have a better future. For some great resources on helping the environment, check out the following websites:

https://www.epa.gov/recycle/how-do-i-recycle-common-recyclables

https://www.ewg.org/consumer-guides

https://earth911.com

https://kidsgardening.org

https://www.sunset.com/garden/flowers-plants/plants-pollination#plants-pollination_15

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

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Earth Day – How will you celebrate Earth this year?

Our planet, Earth is indeed a beautiful planet. If you looked at it through a telescope or from outer space, you’d see the peaceful colors and vibrant life within it. It’s the only planet we can live on for now and until scientists and other experts tell us another planet is habitable, I’m going to try and help save my planet for now. Well, “saving” may be too astronimical of a word but each day I try to remember to do something that will help preserve the planet for my children and their children and so forth. Each year, on April 22, is what we call “Earth Day”. Earth Day is celebrated throughout the world and each nation has their own ways of celebrating Earth and finding ways to help make it better.

We can all make a difference in how we want our world to be. We as individuals can either make things better or make them worse. Basically, there are 3 categories that people may fall in. The first category are those who are constantly finding ways to help the planet, preserve the planet, and make the planet better. They are always recycling, reducing, reusing and never falter in their endeavor to make the world a healthier place. Then there is the second category where most of us may fall in. These folks try to remember to recycle and turn off their lights and electronic equipments when possible. They do what they can to be environmentally  conscious. Then there is the third category where people do not care at all about the planet. They don’t bother with the environment and have no personal reasons to recycle, reduce, and reuse. They don’t know the difference between carbon footprint and their own footprints. Therefore, it’s up to the first and second categories to help make the planet a healthier place for everyone else.

It’s not hard to do something to make the world a healthier place. Even if it’s within your little town or city, any movement you make to help your environment can improve the outcome of our planet. Below I’ve outlined some guidelines in how to reduce your carbon footprint on this planet. According to Green Living of National Geographic, they explain carbon footprint as, ‘Your carbon footprint measures the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted as a result of your daily activities. When you drive to work, run the appliances in your home or sneak off for a weekend getaway, you cause the burning of fossil fuels, which provide the energy needed to power your lifestyle.’

– Walk to work (if it’s within reasonable distance). Walking is actually one of the greatest ways you can to reduce your carbon footprint.

– Walk to the grocery store (if it’s within reasonable distance).

– Take public transportation

– Carpool

– Buy organic. According to the USDA organic farming laws, toxic pesticides, herbicides, germicides and soil may not be used on food grown for consumption. Neither are chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics allowed to be used on livestock. Irrigation, water, pest managment, processing, and many other strict regulations are set forth to maintain proper organic practices within the US. Organic means a safer ecosystem and healthier living.

– Buy locally grown food and products. This also help reduce carbon footprint as less fuel is used to transport such goods. Some locally grown foods do not use toxic pesticides or chemicals but be sure to check with your local farms first.

– Reduce, reuse, recycle. You’ve probably heard this many times. It’s fairly easy to do this if you keep up with it. Reduce by using less materials that may harm the environment. Reuse by reusing what you have on hand. Recycle everything that’s possible.  Check with your local facilities on their own regulations on what is and what is not allowed to be recycled.

– Bring your own reusable bags when shopping. Reusable bags can be easily stored in your purse or in your car. Be sure to buy bags that are made from sustainably grown materials or made from recycled materials to reduce raw ingredients from being used even more.

– Use solar energy where possible. Solar energy requires energy from the sun, which is a free source of energy. You can use solar energy to charge your electronic equipments and your house. Solar panels are quickly becoming popular in homes and you can probably find good companies out there that will save you a lot of money on your energy bills.

– Reduce your overall buying. Buying less, especially products that are harmful to the environment could make you feel better about how you can help the environment.

– Buy from companies who protect the Rain Forest through the Rain Forest Alliance.

There are probably a lot more ideas and ways of conserving energy, reducing your carbon footprint, and helping the environment. Good resources are companies like: http://www.earthday.org/, http://www.epa.gov/, and http://practicallygreen.com/ (which has really great ideas, products, and ways of living “green”). You can probably think up some of your own ways in helping the environment.

This year, we still plan on hosting an “Earth Day” event but just not sure what we plan on doing yet. EarthDay.org is a good place to visit on how you can help with the environment. So no matter what you plan on doing to celebrate Earth this year, any step towards improvement is a positive step. You’ll feel better and happier that you are doing something to make the world a healtier place to live for yourself and your future generations.