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Treat everyday like it’s Earth Day

Weeks after national observance still a good time to go ‘green’

Earth Day was our time to celebrate in Grundy County the bounty of what we have in our planet and think about ways to help protect it for future generations.

While April 22 was set aside as a holiday for the earth, our commitment to protecting it should be for a liftime, not for one day a year.

Earth Day should only be a starting point, a pledge to take a small step in the right direction in assisting this planet in our care and stewardship. Truly one action is a ripple effect that has long-term positive consequences.

Making those pledges into consistent day-to-day activities is something we all can strive for. There are organizations such as Earth Day Network that will record your pledge. The most important thing is to commit, stick to it, and make it a life change.

Some resolution ideas for any day, not just for Earty Day, are to:

• Organize a cleanup of a local park or neighborhood
• Buy Less
• Fix leaky fixtures
• Donate clothes and furniture to good will
• Examine family recycling habits
• Give up one hour of electricity
• Educate your children and grandchildren to respect the earth
• Buy local fruits and vegetables
• Change all bulbs for efficient bulbs
• Make crafts out of recyclable materials
• Reuse product containers
• Copy articles double sided
• Save documents electronically instead of printing
• Reuse packing materials and boxes for shipping
• Buy vintage clothing
• Buy recycled products
• Encourage recycling in your school district
• Bring home recyclables from work if there is no program there
• Use reusable bags
• Keep refrigerator door closed more
• Wash full washing machine and dishwasher loads

Some activities to consider that are “earth-friendly”:

• Have a garage sale
• Plant a tree
• Create a sustainable garden
• Purchase or make a rain barrel or composter
• Take a hike in the woods
• Have a picnic for the earth using re-usable serveware and make it waste free by composting scrapes
• Organize a cleanup of the neighborhood or local park   
• Contact a river advocate group and join   
• Check local zoos and park districts
• Make a craft that is made of recycled materials (see Internet sites)
-• Make a bird house by using a simple used milk container
• Provide lint for birds
• Do an energy audit of your homes — check window leakage, refrigerator leaks, and water heater insulation
• Determine what endangered species that you have in your area and see what you can do to help them thrive.

Green Home Living

When considering building your home, downsizing saves not only on utility bills, but also on the amount of materials needed to construct your home.

Positioning the windows and location on the lot will help in heating and providing natural heating into your home. Using the natural features on the lot such as hills and retaining quality trees will help with the cost of excavation and provide shade and preserve at the same time.

Consider supplemental heating and electrical generation by solar and wind energy sources. The use of awnings and blinds are beneficial as sources to prevent excessive energy waste during seasons that the air conditioning is used.

Use fixtures within the home – from the refrigerator, washing machine to the shower head – that are efficient. Native plantings outside of your home will provide you with a beautiful landscaped home with plants that are durable for the seasons that we experience in this area.

Green Office Living

As most of us “live” at work more than at home, it is good to continue those great green practices there as well.

Some ideas, such as printing on both sides of the paper, printing in black and white instead of color, and replacement of fixtures/bulbs that are leaky, inefficient and energy suckers, work well at the office as well as home, but we may want to also consider the following tips:

• Buy bulk paper that is 100% recycled content
• Buy pencils and pens that are also made of recycled materials
• Save files electronically instead of printing
• Include live plants as part of the decorating scheme as they produce oxygen, clean the air, and provide a tranquil presence for employees.
• Complete your own waste audit or have a firm do that for you.
• Promote waste free lunches by removing vending machines.
• Cleaning agents can be the largest sources of contamination for indoor pollution issues. Using cleaning products that are made with green sources such as plant oils are a better fit.
• Help to organize employees into a commuting program to save on air pollution and also provide camaraderie.
• Consider getting a “green team” coordinated to support local community environmental cleanup plans. Provide a reward system for the employees who dedicate their time and services.
• Green energy for the building is a good tool and if this is a new building may help in obtaining LEED certification.
• If stormwater is conveyed on the grounds, consider updating that system such that you refine the water as it dissipates from the site through native, long rooted plants before reaching ground water levels. It also keeps most of the stormwater on the site to provide natural irrigation for the plants and less of an overall stormwater issue onto other adjacent properties.
• Virtual meetings and webinars will cut down on time away from the office and also help in air pollution issues.
• Life cycle analysis done for business should also consider reuse, repair and recycle as part of that analysis.
• Advertise and praise your employees who participate and aid in the green process as it is beneficial for other businesses to follow that trend and mimic your actions.

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