Earth Day is all about putting the environment in the forefront. This year, there could be no more greater issue to do that with than global warming.
Addressing global warming and its effects on our wild lands is one of The Wilderness Society’s top priorities. But we also know that our supporters and staff also do many things in their everyday lives to make a difference. Earth Day seemed the perfect time to come together, share some of our rituals, and then challenge ourselves to do even more.
So we asked our own staff what they are doing to fight global warming on a daily basis. We’ve shared a few of their answers below. We also asked our WildAlert subscribers to share some of their best stories and tips with us, as well. Read those here.
We hope you see a few familiar ideas and perhaps one or two new ones to take with you on Earth Day and everyday of the year!
Only one light on at a time: It took a shift in habits, but I’ve trained myself to click off light switches and then turn the next one on when I move from room to room in my house and at work. I haven’t quantified how much energy this has saved, but it’s easy to do and definitely reduces your carbon footprint. I’ve also unplugged appliances and cashed in an energy tax credit for the past four years with the state and the IRS for putting in energy-efficient windows, doors, and insulation. Just keep your receipts and highlight the relevant items because you’ll have to turn the receipts in at tax time.
- Janelle Holden — Northern Prairie Campaign Coordinator, Northern Rockies Regional Office, Bozeman, Montana
I heat my home with wood, some of which I harvest from the small woodlot on my property. The rest I try to buy as “log length” from loggers working in my immediate vicinity. That minimizes the carbon emitted since the logs come straight from the landing to my house and don't have to be transported to a place where they'd be bucked and split into firewood and then transported to my house. Getting log-length wood means I can buck the logs to the longer length that my wood stove can accommodate, which means less fuel burned in the chainsaw, and more wood going into heating my home and less just becoming sawdust.
- Spencer Phillips, Ph.D. — Vice President Ecology and Economics Research
Recognizing the role of cattle operations play not only in deforestation but in generating huge quantities of methane, I decided to dramatically reduce my consumption of meat. In addition to lowering my "methane footprint" I have lost a few pounds by eating more vegetables and fruit — and much less meat. Click here for a a good story on the subject.
- Pete Morton — Senior Resource Economist, Central Rockies Regional Office, Denver, Colorado
I'm urging every citizen who cares about global warming to contact his/her Representative in the U.S. Congress with a simple message: "For the sake of preserving a healthy planet for our children, support the Waxman-Markey bill now!" This legislation, also know as the American Clean Energy and Secrurity Act, or 'Aces' is what we must pass if we are to roll back global warming in the coming decades. Install efficient lightbulbs — and e-mail your Congressman. Plant a tree — and call your Congressman. Buy green energy, but please, please, call and e-mail your congressman NOW — when it really counts.
- David H. Moulton. — Director, Climate Policy and Conservation Funding, Washington, D.C.
I switched from a five to a four day work week, to eliminate a commute day. I work from home early in the morning before my daughter gets up, then go in for a regular shift so she doesn’t have to be at daycare any longer than usual.
- Brenda Bielke — Conservation Associate, Idaho Regional Office
It is critical that each and every one of us take small and important steps around the house and at work to minimize waste and reduce our carbon footprint. Additionally, there are some other key things anyone can do with just as little time and effort that can have a huge impact. In the time it takes to pack your cloth grocery bag with local produce you can call your representatives in Congress and share your concerns about global warming and environmental degradation. Similarly, in the amount of time it takes to take your recyclables to the recycling center, you can write a letter to the editor to your hometown paper calling for action on reducing dangerous heat-trapping pollution. We often forget that Congress works for us—and representatives listen to their constituents. If we want to tackle climate change, ensure wildlands are preserved and protect our air and water it starts with us—both in the consumer choices we make AND the pressure we put on those we elect into office.
- JP Leous — Climate Change Policy Advisor, Washington, D.C.
Because many modern-day electronics such as televisions, dvd players, printers, and stereos operate in sleep mode instead of turning all the way off, I have purchased power strips for all of these electronic devices. I routinely keep the power strip turned off so that no power runs to the electronics while I’m away. When I want to watch TV or listen to the stereo, I turn the power strip on. Planet Green says that turning off sleeping devices using a “smart” power strip (or my method of flipping the switch on the power strip) can save about 10 percent of you home's energy use, or about one month of your electricity use each year.
- Vera Smith — Recreation Planning Program Director, Central Rockies Regional Office, Denver, Colorado
It doesn’t have to be a daunting task to start reducing your greenhouse gas footprint. I think it makes sense to start with small steps that create a lot of other benefits. Our food system today uses a tremendous amount of fossil fuel to transport food across the country and across the oceans. We all eat food every day and we can make food choices that reduce its impact. A burgeoning “localvore” movement (google it!) provides a support network for those determined to eat closer to home. My own localvore approach is to raise most of my family’s fruits and vegetables, as well as lamb, right in my own yard. It’s great exercise, and I know what’s in the food I’m eating. Things I can’t grow easily myself, like dairy products and cooking oils and grains, I try to buy from farmer friends and neighbors, or at our local food co-op which also has a local buying preference. Farmer’s markets and community supported agriculture are another way to go local if you don’t have the time and space to grow it yourself. Buying local keeps dollars circulating in our community. It’s also a fun challenge to figure out a thousand and one ways to cook parsnips when they come out of the ground just after the snow thaws.
- Ann Ingerson — Resource Economist, Northwest Region, Vermont
I challenge myself to really live in my neighborhood – by frequenting the stores and restaurants that I can walk or bike to. When I go local, I can save time and money, boost my local economy, and whittle away my waistline by getting a little extra exercise.
- Tashia Tucker — Web Associate, Central Rockies Regional Office, Denver, Colorado
Whenever possible, I buy used clothes and toys for my one-year-old. She goes through things so quickly that it doesn’t make sense to spend money on new things for her every few months. We hit a lot of yard sales, thrift stores, Craig’s list, Freecycle, etc. Reuse is one of the 3 R’s! I also try to buy local produce from farmer’s markets and use re-usable shopping bags at the grocery store.
- Amanda Eisen — Senior Manager, Foundation and Corporate Relations, Washington, D.C.
On rainy days I take the bus and, the rest of the time, I bike to get where I’m going. I know this isn’t practical for all folks, but the idea is really to limit your use of cars. I only use cars to get places inaccessible by mass transit or for weekends away and vacations.
- Drew Bush — Senior Communications Associate, Washington, D.C.
I do a ton of things around the house – I cut saran wrap to fit around items (like cans of dog food or the lemonade pitcher, use jars instead of plastic, reuse plastic containers for storage (like the butter tub), and even reuse the plastic bags that our newspaper arrives in for holding garbage in my car (it fits perfectly in the spot along side my door panel!). BUT, one of my favorites is this: My sister and I are both sensitive to the amount of paper used, so we typically send e-mail greetings – but there are occasions where there is no substitute for a card! In those situations we send a card but if possible leave it blank, inserting a recycled sheet of paper with a personalized note, and an encouraging post script to the recipient to re-use the card. It’s a small way of showing we care for the environment, and a gentle reminder for others to do the same. If you receive a unique card that you’d like to send on, but has writing in it, consider cutting the half of the card with writing and forwarding it on as a postcard – or dropping it on a friend’s desk to brighten their day!
- Lisa Loehr — Vice President, Operations, Washington, D.C.