April 22nd is Earth Day and this year’s theme is “Invest in Our Planet”. And that means investing money, time, and innovation. It also means businesses, governments, and citizens working in solidarity to build a healthy and sustainable planet. So, what will you do to help? HBCU CDAC has ten ways that you can get involved and make a difference.
1. Support National Parks
In celebration of Earth Day, parks will be working on improvement projects. Their initiatives will mobilize volunteers and ultimately ensure that our parks are better able to withstand the pressures of climate change. Become a volunteer or donate. Volunteer or donate here.
2. Great American Clean Up The Keep America Beautiful ® Great American Cleanup® is the nation’s largest community improvement program. It takes place annually in an estimated 15,000 community events nationwide. Learn how to get involved here.
3. Commit to Composting Start a compost bin, or pledge to start sending your food scraps to a community composting program. Organic food scraps release methane, as they decay in landfills. Composting promotes a circular food system that transforms scraps (and other organic materials, like paper towels) into regenerative and healthy soil. Find out how to get started.
4. Join the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) For over 50 years, the NRDC has been on the frontlines fighting in court to defend the climate, public health, wildlife, and open space. From working to protect the Arctic National Refuge to holding polluters responsible, the NRDC is one of the few legal groups that has the planet as their only client. Find out how you can help.
5. Give Your Support Locally In addition to helping the NRDC, join at least one local or regional environmental group which focuses on critical issues that are closer to your home. Whether it’s securing safe drinking water for families in Newark, or greening your school district, volunteer to help an organization that is fighting at the grassroots level for communities.
6. Use Your Car Less We don’t have to tell you that fuel is expensive right now so save money and the planet by taking public transportation, carpooling, riding your bike to nearby locations, or even driving more efficiently. We know it’s not always easy but using public transportation more frequently could reduce our nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons yearly.
7. Plant a Tree and/or Add Pollinators to Gardens If you have your own garden, plant a tree or some pollinator-friendly plants. Plants like this attract birds, butterflies, bees, and other small mammals which are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. They also sustain our ecosystems and increase our natural resources by helping plants reproduce. You can also attract more birds by building a bird feeder or birdhouse. And you can do it for free by using a milk carton, a large water or soda bottle, or even a pine cone to make a nice home for some feathered friends. If you don’t have your own garden, volunteer at a community garden, or support a non-profit that plants trees.
8. Get Your Children Involved Organizations like GreenRibbonSchools.org offer a (free) online community where students, teachers, and parents can connect and share eco-friendly ideas and projects with others across their school and nationwide. They also offer awards programs for schools and individuals who accomplish positive things in the areas of sustainability and health. Other organizations include Environmental Scouts.org, GreenSchoolsNationalNetwork.org, and GreenClubKids.com among many others.
9. Go Solar Solar is not only good for the environment but it’s good for your wallet. With increasing fuel prices and shortages, your electricity bill probably is not going down anytime soon. But the prices of solar installation have come down 80% since 2010 making it a much more affordable option. There are also government rebates and tax incentives. If you are a lower-income homeowner and still can’t afford it, CEI might be able to help.
Whether it’s plastic, paper, or aluminum, most materials can be reused after they serve their original purpose. It’s estimated that up to 75% of all the waste can be recycled or repurposed. And as we all know, the world’s natural resources are finite, and many are in very short supply such as forests. So, do your part. Organizations like WastelessWednesday.org can provide easy tips for recycling at home.
Easy Bonus Ideas:
o Turn off lights when not in use
o Use appliances in off-peak hours
o Get a smart thermostat
o Unplug appliances when not in use
o Switch to energy efficient light bulbs
o Take shorter showers and don’t run the water when brushing your teeth
o Take your own shopping bag to the grocery store
o Don’t use plastic bags – work with your local government to phase out plastic bag and plastic straw use in your community.
o Get involved with HBCU Clean Energy Initiative
Summary The bottom line is there are hundreds of little (and big) things that we can all do to make a difference. So, get started today, and don’t just do your part on April 22nd. Make a commitment all year long – the planet will thank you and so will your children and grandchildren!