By Dawn Onley
Today is Earth Day, a day that always brings a smile to my face.
I have such fond childhood memories of spending loads of time outdoors, soaking up nature’s beauty. One such memory was the apple tree in my grandparents’ backyard. I treasured the times that I got to help pick the apples because I knew before long I would be smacking my lips on some apple pie, stewed apples, applesauce, apple fritters, you name it. Near the apple tree, in their huge garden, grew a variety of vegetables, including tomatoes, onions and peppers, and the sweetest watermelon, which I would eagerly check on after I got home from school to see if any were ripe enough to pick.
I grew up in the 1970s and 80s, back when kids spent a lot of time outdoors. We loved riding our bikes, games of tag and hide and seek, kickball, jump rope and jacks. I loved seeing how high I could swing before jumping off. I would come inside and my mom would say “you smell like the Great Outdoors!”
Whenever Earth Day rolls around, it always conjures up these happy childhood memories. It also helps to center my thoughts on ways that I can help take better care of Mother Earth and promote healthy, sustainable living, today and in the future. For me, this means doing my part to take care of the environment, but it also means taking care of myself, offering up a smile and a nice word to people whom I come in contact with, and striving to be a source of love and light in a sometimes dreary world.
There are countless things that we can all do – small and large — to promote the value of our environment and preserve our Earth while uplifting its inhabitants. Today, to celebrate Earth Day, here are some ways we can celebrate and appreciate our big, beautiful Earth:
Avoid Driving. I know it’s hard, but try not to drive so much. Look for ways to carpool, use public transportation, or bike to work, if any of these are options. This might also be a good time to remind your boss about the importance of telecommuting – not just in providing you with a flexible work schedule but to be better stewards of our environment. The longer you can keep your car parked, the better.
Pay Online: Tell your bank, utilities, creditors, etc. to hold the paper statements and review/pay your accounts online. Think of all the trees you’ll save!
Volunteer: There are a ton of organizations that you can volunteer for on Earth Day and always. Check your local Sierra Club or newspaper events listings in your area for ideas. Or, you can commit to helping someone in a less formal way, say by blessing someone in the hospital with flowers, preparing a meal for a senior, reading a book to kids in your neighborhood, or planting a tree to beautify the Earth.
Donate: Gather up your excesses and bag ‘em. You know you have clothes, shoes, accessories, dishes, equipment, etc. that you no longer wear or use. Donate it to a worthy organization so that someone who really needs it can benefit.
Grow a Garden: Grow flowers. Grow trees. Grow shrubs. Grow food. You can even grow fresh herbs in your house. This is a sweet smooch to the Earth.
Recycle: It’s really important. Make the effort. Do it until it becomes a habit.
Consume Less Energy: Turn off the lights. Open up the windows and keep the air conditioning off as long as possible. Disconnect plugs from outlets when not in use.
Take a Nature Walk: I know some days it hasn’t felt like it, but it’s Spring! The weather is bound to warm up for good sometime soon. Right? RIGHT?! Flowers are blooming. Birds are chirping. There is so much beauty to appreciate out there among the trees and the trails. Get out there and soak it up!
Naturalize your work space: Add some “nature” to your drab cubicle or office by incorporating fresh or even fake flowers, nature-inspired photographs or art work and eco-friendly office supplies. It will not only brighten up your space, it may improve your mood.
Do some or all of these things. And more.
We only have one Earth. Let’s show it some love.