It’s easy to feel doom and gloom about the future of the earth.  But, as Earth Day approaches on April 22, we should be proud of the changes we have adopted and the progress we have made.

Image by ax2groin Flickr.com

One of the biggest changes is that people are aware and talking about the state of the environment – the harmful effects of toxic chemicals, the price of cheap, the declining wildlife and rising sea levels, the state of the oceans, air and water pollution, carbon emissions, climate change and alternative energy.  Awareness is a huge first step and one that propels action.

“Reduce, reuse, recycle” has become the norm.  Depending on the area of the country, most people recycle at least their newspapers and often plastic, glass, metal and more.  Many communities even take garbage for composting.  It is not uncommon to see recycling bins in towns along main commercial streets and in malls.  Restaurants recycle bottles and more and more use biocompostable take out containers.

Organic food abounds.  According to the Organic Trade Association’s 2010 Organic Industry Survey, U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $24.8 billion in 2009.  The Organic Monitor estimates global organic sales reached $50.9 billion in 2008, double the $25 billion recorded in 2003.  Farmer’s markets as a source of healthy, fresh, local food and a place for community are catching on.

Finding personal care products and cosmetics without unnecessary additives and toxic chemicals is also easier.  The same goes for non-toxic household cleaners.  Environmentally friendly dry cleaners and organic lawn care companies now exist.

Alternative health care – acupuncture, homeopathy, massage therapy, chiropractics – and emphasis on disease prevention with food and exercise are much more mainstream (though unfortunately not usually covered by insurance). You can now find homeopathic cold and flu remedies even at CVS!

Awareness about saving energy and fuel has risen and more people are making a concerted effort to drive less, carpool more, use public transportation, switch to CFL light bulbs, watch out for vampire energy, etc., all of which lessen our carbon emissions and help with climate change.

These changes benefit the air, the water, the soil and our health.  It’s easier to lead a greener lifestyle today; in fact, it’s almost a fad.  But we still have a long way to go.  On Earth Day, add one more change to your lifestyle that benefits the earth – simple steps really do make a difference.

Some information compiled from the Organic Trade Association, http://www.ota.com.

One response to this post.

  1. Betsy, do you know of a source or have posted a definitive guide to composting? Claire and I do it daily, using two “Earth Machine” PVC barrels. We started a Zero Waste Team (“ZWT”) at church, and erected two compost facilities, one being an Earth Machine, the other a larger circular barrier. We do pretty well ourselves, and manage a good mix of browns and greens along with the kitchen scraps and even vacuum cleaner emptyings. We are vegetarians, so protein, apart from animal hair, is not an issue.

    The church composts are more of a challenge. (This is the Unitarian Universalist Area Church in Sherborn, MA.) They are by-products of most service coffee sessions, and meetings. We have distributed labelled containers through the church buildings, and get a lot of cooperation, but the mix is not like home, and so is more difficult to balance over time. Last spring one of the compost bins went badly anaerobic and required deep turning with mixing in of leaves. In addition to the work, the odor was something else and gained comment. We are prepared this year with that experience, having succcessfully changed that bin’s trajectory over the summer (lots and lots of worms!), and are armed with a couple of bales of hay and salt hay in order to temper the long winter.

    So, we were looking for a recipe and guidance. I mean, we know a good compost when we see it, and can manage it, but we need to have a more robust one at church.

    Thanks for any tips and thoughts.


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