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Ask Not What Your Earth Can Do For You...

This post is brought to you by the hellebores and muscari in my yard.

Today is Earth Day. I'm not going to preach to you, since half of you are in the 'choir,' and the other half don't care to be. Instead I'm going to give you some practical (and hopefully non-controversial) ways, big and small, that you can commemorate this world holiday. I'm sure that even the busiest among us can fit one of these into our schedules in the next several hours.

1. Clean up a local public area with your family. Members of our church did this on Saturday; many families, including ours, went out with safety vests and garbage bags and picked up hundreds of pounds of trash along a popular bike path near the chapel.

2. Buy reusable grocery bags and keep them in your car so that you remember to use them.

3. Figure out your local walkshed and enjoy using it instead of driving at least once a week. Thinking about moving? Figure out your potential new neighborhood's Walk Score. Our neighborhood is only average, getting 52 points out of 100. (Our old neighborhood in Manhattan scores a whopping 98.) That said, nearly everything I need on a weekly, nonexceptional basis--namely, the grocery store and the library--is within a half mile of home.

4. Buy and eat locally grown food. Find out where the nearest farmer's market is. Join a CSA. Patronize producers of grass-fed Real Milk. You'll make new connections in your community, and your taste buds, your waistline, and your local farmers will all thank you.

5. Read the fantastic book Food, Not Lawns, by H.C. Flores. Then plant a garden, even if it's just a couple of tomato plants in a bucket on your patio.

6. Read Michael Pollan's essay "Why Bother" from last week's New York Times Magazine.

7. Check out the funny, informative, and inspiring blog of Colin Beavan, a.k.a. No Impact Man. Colin is Walking the Walk, my friends; it's pretty great to witness.

8. Subscribe to Grist, the free online environmental news and commentary site.

9. Don't just recycle it; take steps to reduce the junk coming into your mailbox. Pay $1 to the DMA's Mail Preference Service to get off undesirable mailing lists. The Big Three credit bureaus have an opt-out function for the deluge of credit card applications many of us receive on a daily basis. Join Green Dimes! This service is terrific.

10. Just say 'no' to more stuff. Set at least a 24-hour 'time-out' period in which you consider whether you really need that new (fill in the blank). Use your library more. Share yard tools with your neighbors. Downsize your wardrobe and donate your excess to a responsible charity. To quote Emme, a prominent simple lifestyle blogger, "Living simply does not have to mean sacrifice or hardship. It means focusing on the things that are important to us and in our lives." Amen, sister.

Reader Comments (16)

Great bunch of suggestions. :) I'm going to have to check out some of those links.

April 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercablegirl

Excellent post. I will try some of these.


April 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterstrugglingwriter

Inspiring. Thanks for the great links. I already joined GreenDimes! Happy Earth Day.

April 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSydneyMin

I'm struggling to be more eco-friendly; thanks for the tips!

April 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

One of the best things about living more simply is simply appreciating what you have more.

April 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJen of A2eatwrite

I was going to say exactly what cablegirl said. So ditto.

April 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette Lyon

GreenDimes here,

Stop junk mail with GreenDimes for FREE and we'll plant a tree

April 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSanjiv

I was pleased to see I'm already doing some of your great suggestions. It's been a few months now since I began using re-usable cloth shopping bags--it took some conscious effort to remember to put them back in the car, but it feels so good every time I use them at the store and see all those plastic bags NOT getting put into my cart!

And thanks for the links. I'll check them out.

April 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWholly Burble

This is an awesome list! I own a grocery store and we started asking our customers to bring in their old plastic bags so we could recycle them by giving them another run through the store. We have cut down our need to have to buy grocery bags for the store by about 75%. I want to be like Ikea and have the big cloth bags people use to shop with that they bring to the store to use intentionally. It makes sense. I am a would be environmentalist. I want to do more, but I try to at least do a few things to make my footprint on this planet a little lighter.

If I didn't already think you were awesome, this post would cinch it for me. You are awesome!

April 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Wright

This is Maddy if your wondering, but anyway going back to number one I did something close to it with Girl Scouts.

April 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWith a Y

You know that our walkability went down when we moved. I am so glad I can walk my daughter to school though. Great suggestions. Hey, why don't you guest post on my green blog. Afterall, I don't have much to say!

April 23, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrjlight

love your wallpaper by the way--looks great!

April 23, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrjlight


April 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVirtualsprite

Great ideas! And I always love it when you recommend things to read. I've not been disappointed yet.

April 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJenna Consolo

Oohh, there's some very cool stuff in here that I'd never thought of. Like the buying a new home (... er... um... I mean HOUSE) and checking out the walk score. So many other interesting links here too. And I love the quote at the end. That's such a good way to look at it.

April 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrillig

You have some great points in there. We live on an acreage far from town so we have to drive. However, we do grow our own food and compost and will have chickens to eat good vegetable scraps and make more compost along with our donkeys, which makes our garden grow and replenishes the earth. I think we can all do our part no matter where we are and what our lifestyle. Little changes can make a big difference.

April 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdawn

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