since 1970, april 22 has been earth day. the goal in originating this observance has been to draw attention to the care of the environment. it’s another one of those days that i wish we didn’t have to have. not because i disagree with the focus – quite the contrary. the fact is, as Christ-followers, we shouldn’t need such a day. trite as it might sound, we ought to act like every day is earth day.
1. take your family on a hike to enjoy God’s creation; explain to your children why the planet is special and maybe read the creation story.
2. change one of the light bulbs in your home to a compact flourescent bulb.
3. never throw spent batteries in the trash. they contain mercury, a hazardous substance that will leak into groundwater or be burned and released into the air. don’t go there. either switch to rechargeable batteries or collect used batteries in a shoebox out in the garage, clearly marked. then take them to a recycling facility once or twice a year.
4. use rags or towels instead of paper towels for cleaning.
5. store food in bowls or tupperware that can be reused endlessly.
6. use unbleached coffee filters (not bleached).
7. use more waxed paper that is biodegradable (instead of foil and plastic wrap).
8. refrigerator temperatures should be set at about 40 degrees, give or take a degree or two. freezer temps between 0 and 5 degrees are just right. colder settings waste energy and won’t help food. did you know that your friendly refrigerator has a voracious energy appetite? it is the biggest consumer of electricity among household appliances and responsible for 10-15 percent of the electricity you use each year. older refrigerators, as a rule, are far less efficient than the newest ones – as much as 50 percent less efficient. but buying a brand-new, energy-efficient refrigerator is not always in the cards for most of us. fortunately, other things will help. don’t set the thermostat too high. Lowering the temperature even 1 degree will make a big difference. if your refrigerator is near a heating vent, or always in the sun, then change the location, cover up the heating vent near it or cover the window. turn on your “energy saver” switch near the thermostat. clean the condenser coil. this one, very simple thing can improve the efficiency of your refrigerator reducing your annual energy costs by $20. get rid of your second refrigerator. if you don’t need it, don’t waste the energy. make sure the doors seal properly, and keep the cool in.
9. plant a tree, or two, or even three. they’re beautiful, they provide shade, consume CO2, and they produce oxygen. But there are other reasons to plant trees – as wind breaks to save energy, and as shade to lower cooling costs. and even the short-term help while we get our act together is a good thing. as for plants, do everything you can in your yard and garden to create ways in which plants use less water. choose hardier plants, plant things in groups that need more water and put in mulch to help keep moisture in. when you mow your grass, make sure you do it smartly – with sharp blades, and only when the grass needs cutting. finally, make sure you water your lawn sparingly. all of these will conserve energy.
10. it’s difficult, but in today’s consumer economy, an easy way to conserve energy is to simply use – and buy — less. every time you buy something, energy has gone into getting that product to you. so the less you buy, the more you save energy-wise. this could be the single biggest way to make a positive impact for creation. if everyone used less, the impact would be large indeed. here are a few specific things you can do:
a. buy in bulk. In short, bulk items use less packaging, which translates into less energy.
b. go through your closet. donate or recycle what you really don’t need, then make a pledge not to replace everything you just got rid of. a great place to donate to is the local women’s shelter or goodwill store or trailer.
c. buy quality products that will last longer. over time, you’ll obviously buy fewer products that way.
d. be sure to read the “Change Your World” section of Threshold’s weekly newsletter for further tips on how to help and impact the environment for GOOD.
if for no other reason…
one of the biggest reasons we don’t pay more attention to the environment is because, and let’s face it, it’s inconvenient and it takes effort. most if not all of us are more concerned with ourselves day in and day out than in others and our world. the cool thing about so many of jessica’s suggestions is that we benefit! we save energy, which saves money. we buy fewer things, so we save money! we ebay all the crap we don’t really need anymore and we make money! so if you just can’t get to it in obedience to God’s call, do it for the money! (of course, don’t forget to tithe on the money you make!)