Every year, April 22nd is Earth Day. Which is good, because I totally forgot about Earth Hour a little while back, apparently choosing to sit around and watch TV with Sarah instead. I’m going to go about it a little differently this time, though. I’m a big fan of making our world a greener place: I cringe when I see coworkers throw items in the trash instead of recycle them; I try to reduce my physical footprint by having less things so that I can use up less resources; I’m a regular public transit rider — in a lot of ways, I’d like to think that I contribute to the solution.
But I’m not perfect.
I fall asleep with lights on. I buy things from places that use a ridiculous amount of unnecessary packaging. I probably have more electronics than the average mortal actually needs. So I don’t particularly feel well-equipped to write a post teaching you how to be greener without totally compromising your lifestyle. Hypocrisy is something that should be avoided whenever possible.
So I went to someone who might know better. I’ve followed David Suzuki in the past; still owe Franke James a video from a talk she did for us at work; and now, I present Rhonda James of Milan, Tennessee, who was gracious enough to answer a few questions about what she’s doing to make the Earth a greener and cleaner place 🙂 Take it away, Rhonda!
Who are you and what do you do?I’m Rhonda James and I’m the owner of the Green Earth Cleaning Corporation. Green Earth was founded on the belief that we can keep our homes and businesses clean, while not harming the environment in the process. A side benefit I’m hoping to acquire from this business is to help our clients be greener in their everyday living. I honestly believe everyone wants to do their part and everyone cares, but it’s overwhelming and they really don’t seem to know where to start.What’s your earliest memory of wanting to make the Earth a greener place?When I was about 7 years old, I remember learning about trees and what they do for our land, our oxygen, and really our lives. Since that time, I’ve always felt the need to plan them wherever I’ve lived and make a difference in the water storage, oxygen levels and even soil erosion and drought issues, all of which are impacted by planting a tree.What makes what you do so green?We use products that are not harsh on people or animals. Using green cleaning products can actually have a reduced impact on our health as well as the environment. The quality of the air we breathe while in our homes or businesses is significantly better and healthy in comparison to those where harsh chemical products are used!That’s the single greenest capability of our company, though we do many other things to increase eco-friendly practices of not only ourselves, but others as well.What are some quick tips you could give people to make their lives greener?
- Recycle as much as you can! When an appliance dies, find someone to pick it up who can use the parts for cash OR find someone who can recycle those and not let them end up in the landfill. Even something as small as a glass jar that condiments come in can be recycled and used for kids’ storage, paint projects, etc.
- Open windows to let light in as long as daylight is present. Conserving energy is a great and simple way to go green.
- Try to do as many errands as possible when you are out to conserve fuel usage. Or, if it’s possible, walk or ride a bike to your destination — that’s even better!
- Keeping grass mowed a little taller (3 or even 4 inches) helps smother weeds out of the lawn and also helps with the growth. Yes, by not allowing those weeds to strengthen with the sunlight by mowing it higher, you actually don’t have to mow as often!
- I could go on and on. There are tons of green living tips on the Internet, I challenge everyone to look into it and find something — even just one thing — you can do to make your life a little greener!How do you go the extra mile in making your home a green place?I turn off and unplug appliances when not in use. I reuse plastic containers and glass jars which cream cheese, bacon bits or other foods come in. Actually, I spend a little more to buy the bacon bits in a glass jar because those make excellent storage jars for small items, and they can be repurposed for decorative gifts with a little imagination! As for driving, I do all my errands at the same time while I’m out or ride/drive with a friend. My windows stay open when the weather is permitting and I don’t turn on my HVAC (Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning) unless it’s absolutely necessary. There are so many other things I do, but these are just a few that are very simple for anyone to try!Are there greening practices you’d like to see your town adopt to make it a better place?I would love to see my town adopt a serious recycling program where it starts in the home. When it starts in the home, young children learn these practices by default which increase chances of that generation being more Earth-friendly than we ever were! I’d love to see programs put into place —especially in schools — for the advantages of recycling, planting trees, and reducing our carbon footprints. It would be a great idea to start with our youth and work our way up!
And finally, what does Earth Day mean to you?Earth Day is a very special day to me. Actually, the first Earth Day began in 1970, the year I was born — and I suppose I have an extra fond place for it, simple because we’re the same age! But that’s not the only reason — Earth Day stands for our future. It’s the one day of the year that gets the most recognition in terms of going green and green practices. I think of Earth Day as the day to really be able to bring attention to green practices to some who don’t know of it or who might neglect taking care of our Earth. I see it as an opportunity to make others aware of what they are doing and not doing, all of which would need very small changes in order to create a very big difference.
I challenge any reader of this blog to inform yourself as to what reactions our actions are causing. One step in a positive direction can help so much, especially if you find additional ways to help once you’ve gotten started. Casey, I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your Earth Day post and for helping me to inform others of small changes we can make in our lives to make a difference for years and years to come.
No Rhonda, thank you for helping to bring an authentic voice to making the Earth a little better to live in 🙂
And so I echo Rhonda’s words — go out there. Learn about what you can do in your communities to make them greener, and your health, your community, and the world at large will thank you for it 🙂
–Casey E. Palmer