Earth Day tips for even the most urban neighborhood

Earth Day; it tends to leave me speechless.  Either I get too preachy and turn people off, or I sit there and feel bad for not standing up for what I strongly believe in.  But can we all just agree that it’s neither a liberal nor conservative topic anymore?  We all live here; Republican, Democrat, whatever you are and wherever you are, Earth is our home unless you’re visiting from Mars. 🙂  This isn’t about coal mining, or whale hunting, but about bonding together, black or white, whether you’re in New York or Tibet.  We can all shut off the lights when we leave a room, drink tap water instead of bottled, and walk to the corner store instead of driving.  Can’t we?   I am saddened by some of the things I see on a daily basis.  Plastic grocery bags lining the lovely budding spring trees, coffee cups in the gutters, tires thrown on the side of the highway.  What has happened to our human sensibility?  Have we become that engrossed in ourselves that nothing matters but our own personal comfort?  I don’t know about you, but it won’t kill me to bring my coffee cup home to dispose of properly or better yet, use a travel mug.

Oops I slipped and preached just a teeny bit, but at least you can tell I’m passionate about the cause!  Now for some fun.  I have gathered some fantastic ideas and tips from a few buddies of mine for Earth Day and what you can do in your neck of the woods to make a difference.

1. Recycle your cardboard boxes and turn them into weed barrier.

“I can tell you my biggest pet peeve : cereal! The plastic bag inside the box kills me. Such a waste! We buy the bagged generic for that reason. However! If we do end up with cardboard boxes from that, or soda boxes, etc…I flatten them and put them in my rose garden. Just push back the mulch, lay the box, wet it down and put the mulch back….awesome for keeping the weeds away. I experimented last year – half with boxes and half not – the boxes worked beautifully and no chemicals!!!” – from Chrissie in TX

2. Save your shower water.

Holly K. submits this tip from her father in drought stricken California.   “My dad puts a bucket in his shower. He fills it up with the shower water as it is warming up before he gets in. Then he uses the water for plants.”

3. Speak out in your community.

“When shopping do you look for packaging that is recyclable and/or reusable? How does this affect your shopping habits? Do you bring your own bags or do you collect endless heaps of plastic bags? Does your community offer compostables with the trash service? If not, how can you get them to add it? Speak out & make a difference.” – Cherie P.

4. Reduce your use of disposables.

Carol in DE writes this; “I keep a real knife and fork and a cloth napkin in my desk at all times. When I need to buy food at work, I can almost always buy it in a compostable container, but the plasticware, is problematic. And it drives me crazy when people grab a stack of 400 napkins and then throw them out.”

5. My #1 favorite tip is trash picking.

No, I don’t actually dumpster dive, (well, I have a couple times) but I can’t stand driving to work on trash day and seeing the amazing things people are throwing out!  I have gotten everything from Ethan Allen wing chairs to vintage make up cases out of the trash.  If I can’t use them, I donate them to a thrift store or sell on Ebay.  About 1/3 of my furniture that I currently have came from other people’s trash that I cleaned up and saved from the landfill.  Even today I passed my neighbor’s house and they were throwing away 2 full boxes of hardback books, 4 suitcases and a cute step stool.  Ugh!  Now, some places won’t let you throw stuff out like that, while others do.  Unfortunately, New Jersey seems to be behind the times with their solid waste management issues.  I see entire households that have gone out to the trash before.  It’s sad.  Yet, we are one of the most densely populated places in America.  It just doesn’t make sense that we don’t encourage more recycling programs.  On the other hand, there are also neighborhoods that do not allow for trash picking, so please be mindful of your local ordinances.

6. Start a worm farm!

My sister Carol and I are new worm farmers (vermiculturists 🙂 ) and will be showing you more in the days to come how it works and introduce you to our new little earth friendly recyclers. This is a great way to reduce your organic waste and create amazing, rich soil for your garden!  It’s easy to do in an apartment or your home.

7.  Collect rain water.

If you have space in your yard or on your apartment balcony, make a rain barrel!  This will be another fun post for another day.  Sissy and I took a class last week and made our own rain barrels.  It was fun and amazing to learn about all the facts on rain water and city water usage.

So, there are some tips to help you make your own corner of the world a better place.  The time has come for us to stop waiting for someone else to do it, and put on our big girl/big boy pants and take responsibility ourselves. And remember, education is key so encourage your friends and family to make a difference.

In case they didn’t get the memo, saving the earth is cool and it can actually be fun!

cherry blossoms cherry blossoms


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