Sunday, April 17, 2011

Use Earth Day to kick-off some greener, healthier habits

 Spring is a busy time of year for anyone who is eco-minded. That’s when all of the “green” celebrations occur. World Water Day was March 22, Earth Hour was March 26 and now Earth Day is coming up on April 22.

Although it’s technically one day I prefer to stretch Earth Day into a week-long celebration full of fun ways to live better. It’s like Lent for the eco-minded.

If you’d like to mark the day, or the week, and are in search of suggestions the list below should be enough to get you started.

You can approach it like a meal plan (plastic-free Monday, litter-less lunch on Tuesday…), try to do it all, or pick something from the list to do all week long.

Pack a litter-less lunch that includes nothing that will end up in the trash. Avoid all packaged food and instead make your lunch from scratch and pack it in reusable containers or bags.

Go a day without buying, acquiring or using plastic. A plastic-free February challenge was started in the U.S. this year but it’s never too late to give it a try, even for a day. It’ll remind you of how much plastic you have in your life, and how many plastic items are just an unnecessary waste of fossil fuel.

Celebrate Earth Hour again. Choose an evening to turn out the lights for an hour, either between 8:30 and 9:30, or start earlier if you have young children. Chat, play a board game or read by candlelight.

Plan a 100 mile meal. Remember eggs, meat, fish and dairy are all produced locally, and some root vegetables at grocery stores were grown in Atlantic Canada. Speerville Flour Mill whole white flour is made from wheat that is grown and milled in New Brunswick. Honey and maple syrup are produced locally too. From that list of options you should be able to plan a meal with food that is, at the very least, grown or produced in Atlantic Canada.

Enjoy a meatless meal. The environmental impact of meat production (we’re talking mostly the large factory farms) is so extensive that the Union of Concerned Scientists suggests that the best thing you can do for the environment is to eat less meat.

Go without bottled water (or any sort of packaged beverage) and drink tap water instead.

Substitute a homemade version of something that you always buy. For Earth Hour this year I made homemade graham crackers to use for s’mores. Try making your own salad dressing or tortillas.

Unplug the dryer and hang your clothes to dry. It’s spring, use the clothesline. Drape newly-washed bedding over the railing of your deck if you don’t have a line.

Plan a screen-free day meaning no TV, no computer, no handheld electronic games. Play outside instead and visit to learn more about why getting outside more often is important to our health and happiness.

However you choose to celebrate, consider Earth Day a spring kick-off to some greener, healthier habits.

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