You might not be willing to commit to a manual push mower or a 20-mile bike ride to work, but there are plenty of simple ways you can Create the Good in your community that will make it healthier for all of us that call Earth our home.
I waste. You waste. E-waste.
According to the EPA, Americans generated 3.14 million tons of obsolete electronic products in 2013—about one percent of the municipal solid waste stream.
Their Advancing Sustainable Materials Management (SMM): Facts and Figures 2013 report also noted that:
- Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year, and
- One metric ton of circuit boards can contain 40 to 800 times the amount of gold and 30 to 40 times the amount of copper mined from one metric ton of ore in the United States.
Many communities offer e-waste recycling programs, but these are seldom well-advertised and often inconvenient for citizens outside the immediate area of the event. If you know of a local event, consider volunteering your home as a collection point, simply by picking a date and time before the larger community event. An email or a quick flyer is all you’ll need to get the message out.
No e-waste program in your community? No problem. You can volunteer to set one up! Find more information about e-waste programs here. Then, contact your state legislator to get started, and prepare to make difference year after year.
You can also make an impact right at home, by repairing broken electronics rather than discarding them. Consider upgrading your laptop with more storage and additional memory, rather than buying a new device. Selling or donating your used electronics is another great way to recycle. iFixit.org covers some of these strategies and offers instructions on how to repair many of your “I thought it was broken” home electronics.
Make the grass greener on every side.
he USDA reports that in 2011 alone, the US agriculture industry consumed 22 million tons of chemical fertilizer. One simple way you can help reduce the amount of fertilizer that ends up in your community’s rivers and streams is by taking a greener approach to lawn care.
Grass height and proper watering techniques are a natural, one-two punch against even the most stubborn weeds. By maintaining a lawn height of at least 3-4 inches, you’ll have a fuller lawn that crowds out pesky intruders, and a stronger lawn with deep healthy roots. You’ll also need less water to maintain your lawn’s health. Depending on your climate, a lawn only needs about one inch of water (including rainfall) every four days. And for a great natural fertilizer, skip the bag and leave the clippings on the lawn.
So, how do these tips translate into opportunities to create the good? One easy way would be to write a letter to the editor of your local paper about “time and money-saving lawn care tips.” You could also host a local “green” party to share your knowledge with friends. Or simply utilize these strategies each time you volunteer to maintain the lawn of a neighbor in need.
Happier Earth Day.
If you’ve got some extra time this time of year, consider volunteering for an Earth Day event, or maybe even organizing your own. The EPA’s Earth Day website is a great place to start, with local events, project ideas and helpful resources. Short on time? The folks at The Earth Day Network can help you make the world better from the comfort of your chair, with clickable petitions for change and simple strategies to help reduce waste and your carbon footprint. For a more involved challenge, consider organizing a swap party in your community, where old books, videos and sporting equipment become another family’s inspiring opportunity.
Find opportunities to clean up the environment!
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