The 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

These days, it’s a lot easier to be green.  I’m dating myself here, but I was in elementary school when Earth Day was first established back in 1970, so this year is its 40th anniversary  (For those of you who need a refresher, Earth Day falls on April 22). I don’t remember much about it originally except I remember we were supposed to love the earth. Something must have stuck with me because my husband refers to me as the biggest “tree hugger” he knows.  Earth Day is considered the beginning of the environmental movement.

The schools are still doing a wonderful job at instilling “love of the earth” in students and lately I’ve been seeing stories about how several of our schools are in a competition for which school can be “the greenest.”  One school got a grant to install solar panels, it goes without saying that all schools have recycling programs of some sort, and another school was nixing the bottled water in favor of reusable bottles filled with tap water.

In our own home, we have changed our own practices quite a bit as well. When it came time for a new washer, we bought the energy star front loader. (In fact, any time we have to replace an appliance, we do so with an energy star appliance, rated to be more energy efficient).

We have changed every bulb that we can to a compact fluorescent.  We only wash full loads of laundry, and do them all at the same time, so that the residual heat from the dryer can be used (we dry outside or in the basement on the line when we can).  We also only run full dishwasher loads, of course.

As for our trash, we have virtually none anymore because we recycle almost everything.  We easily go two weeks without putting out a trash can and could go three, probably–but we have two full recycle bins every week.

Interestingly enough, today there was a story about one town, East Hartford, proposing that residents pay $2 for every bag of trash they throw away.  I recall reading an earlier story, perhaps about Hartford, which proposed that residents pay for trash disposal but would get credits for their recycling.  This may be a trend, at least in Connecticut.  Some towns here already don’t have regular trash pickup–you go to the dump (which I know is the norm in many parts of the country).  That sort of system makes you think a lot harder about what you bring in and what you carry out.

The garden waste is composted, the lawn clippings are composted and we mow with a battery operated mower.  I will only use hand tools–my husband, not so much, but many of his power tools are battery operated.  This is not on a tiny property, mind you–we have just under an acre.

We still have to move the leaves in the fall with gas, unfortunately–and there are far, far too many for leaf mould or compost.

So the Earth Day lessons of my childhood have stuck–and since they’ve upped the ante with today’s students, I’m sure things will be even better in the future!

This post is part of the “Garden Blogger’s Sustainable Living” project started by Jan at Thanks For Today . About 20 bloggers have participated so far.  You can find some great tips for sustainable living at Kathy’s blog, Gardening For Nature .

3 thoughts on “The 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

  1. Jan (ThanksForToday) March 4, 2010 / 4:53 pm

    Hi Karla, thanks for your participation. Would you mind fixing the links though? Both the written one and on the photo…neither go to my blog. Let me know when you get it fixed and I’ll add your post. Thanks!

  2. tina March 4, 2010 / 11:38 pm

    Now that you mention how old Earth Day is I realize where I was when it started too. Also elementary school in Maine. It was a few years later though that I remember my big contribution. It was to pull up a tree in the forest behind my house and plant it somewhere else, in the same forest. Ha! I always remember it. Thanks for bringing up the memory. It seemed that back then Earth Day was publicized so much more. So great you all recycle.

  3. Jan (ThanksForToday) March 5, 2010 / 6:32 pm

    I was in 7th gr. in 1970;-) RE: the link. Did you put a / after the ? It won’t link otherwise. In your sidebar it may have gone directly, even without it, since it’s in a Blogroll listing. It doesn’t seem like a WordPress issue because other WP bloggers have it linked ok. Anyway, it’s listed now.

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