Earth Day is upon us, and sustainability is a buzzword frequently used all over the news. Since the first celebration on April 22, 1970, Earth Day has been an annual event for people around the world to celebrate the earth and renew our commitment to building a safer, healthier, and cleaner world for all of us. It seems like almost everyone is trying to “go green” lately. There are many ways you can get involved in Earth Day 2019. You could volunteer for a local restoration project, organize a clean-up event where you live, change a bad environmental habit, attend an Earth Day event, or communicate your priorities to your elected representatives. The possibilities are endless! Do something nice for the earth! Have fun! Meet new people, and make a difference!
Luckily, many of the methods we can use to help stop climate change also help to better our lives overall. Hopefully this article can help you make a change, however small; your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will thank you for living more sustainability. For instance, simple every day acts can help to minimize your carbon footprint. Many of our daily activities - such as using electricity, driving a car, or disposing of waste - cause greenhouse gas emissions. Together these emissions make up a household's carbon footprint. If you have not spent time calculating your carbon footprint with EPA’s carbon footprint calculator, it is an eye-opening experience. The calculator estimates your footprint in three areas: home energy, transportation, and waste. Everyone's carbon footprint is different depending on their location, habits, and personal choices. Here are some tips to achieving the #earthdayeveryday lifestyle:
- Re-think Single-use! Massive consumption of bottled water has produced tremendous amounts of waste. The U.S. is one of the top trash-producing countries in the world. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the total generation of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2015 was 262.4 million tons (approximately 3.5 million tons more than the amount generated in 2014). MSW generated in 2015 increased to 4.48 pounds per person, per day. If you do have a disposable bottle, recycle it when you are done. According to The Water Project, it’s estimated that up to 80 percent of water bottles in the United States never get recycled. Meaning, U.S. landfills are overflowing with 2 million TONS of discarded water bottles today. In addition, it takes three times the amount of water that is in a water bottle to create the bottle in the first place! Think about using a reusable water bottle instead of a disposable one. Reusable products do not have to stop at water bottles. Take reusable bags with you to the grocery store. Paper or plastics bags are wasteful, unnecessary, and often times less sturdy than canvas reusable bags. Even the Starbucks on MCBH offers a discount if you BYOM (Bring Your Own Mug) for your morning cup o’ joe. It also helps to be aware of the type of products you are purchasing. For example, the middle part of the cotton swab is known as a spindle. If everyone in the U.S. switched to paperboard spindles instead of plastic ones, the petroleum energy saved would be equivalent to over 1,500,000 gallons of gasoline.
- Shut it Down! Teach children to turn off the water while brushing their teeth. Leaving the tap running during the recommended two minutes of brushing can waste up to five gallons of water a day. Get the kids to turn off video games (both the TV and the console) after they're done playing, and your electric bill could be about $100 cheaper per year. If you have a difficult time remembering, consider putting them on a smart power strip or on a simple timer.
- RECYCLE! Studies suggest that recycling one aluminum can saves enough electricity to power a TV for three hours. Recycling can be everything from paper products to plastics and even upcycling old items. It is important to think about which trash can be saved from a landfill. Did you know we have a Recycle Center right here on Base? Recyclables are prohibited in government dumpsters, so everything from white paper to magazines, corrugated cardboard to aluminum cans, and toner cartridges can be accepted at the Recycle Center. You can help reduce the amount of plastic and debris that ends up in our oceans and in our landfills. For additional information and a POC: https://www.mcbhawaii.marines.mil/Portals/114/WebDocuments/IEL/Environmental/Recycling/110518-RecyclingBrochure.pdf
- Buy Less or Borrow! It is not easy to break from our consumer culture and overbuying habits. The benefit of this tip is that you are not only ‘going green’ but ‘saving green’ as well. If you have an option, consider borrowing items instead of buying them. Feel free to utilize MCBH’s Re-Use Room, which is available to take residents’ re-usable products and giving it away for free to anyone who wants it. The Re-Use Room will accept and give away re-usable household hazardous products such as cleaning products, paints, garden supplies, propane tanks, etc. The Information Referral and Relocation Services Department on base offers a “Lending Locker” for inbound and outbound families waiting on household goods (pots, pans, dishware, utensils) to be shipped to/from their next location. Hospitality Kits are available, including basic kitchenware items like can-openers, oven mitts, and even microwaves. The kits are based on family sizes (2, 4, 6 people) and they offer loan periods of 30, 60, and 90 days.
- Alternative Transportation! Can you carpool? Can you ride your bicycle? Leaving your car in the driveway two days per week can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by 3,000 pounds per year. If you must drive, utilizing the cruise control feature in your vehicle can help you get up to 15% better mileage. Be sure to maintain your vehicle with clean air filters, inflated tires, and fully functioning parts. All of these can help improve your vehicle’s performance, save gas, and reduce pollution.
- Water, Water, Everywhere! Water is a finite resource and should be conserved for the health of our environment and society. Consider installing low flow shower heads, limiting your shower length to no more than 5 minutes daily, and using rain water for watering your plants. If you wash your dishes throughout the day, fill one bin with soapy dish water and use all day rather than filling the sink multiple times. Limit the use of your dish washer and only use the appliance when it is full. Only run the laundry machine with a full load. Install a nozzle on the end of your hose. And turn off the faucet while you’re shaving.
- Work for it! Volunteer on MCBH with the Environmental Department, offering an opportunity to give back to the Mokapu Peninsula every other month with their Weed Warrior program. Join the Base Environmental staff, Sierra Club, community volunteers, and your fellow service members in removing invasive species, collecting rubbish, and protecting and improving habitat for endangered and threatened species. Interested to find out more? Feel free to call 257-7000 or 257-7131. Other local state and non-profit organizations are regularly looking for volunteers willing to donate time in restoration projects, too.
- It’s No Secret! Pass on the word about your sustainability practices. Share your journey of living a sustainable lifestyle on social media. Let your family members and friends know how you made a slight change in your routine, how it made such a huge difference, and how they can too. Media and technology now-a-days can be used to our advantage. For example, Bryon Roman, a loan officer in Phoenix, challenged “bored teens” on social media to pick up litter and it went viral just last month and is still trending. “Take a photo of an area that needs some cleaning, then take a photo after you have done something about it, and post it,” Roman wrote. Since then, the #trashtag has spread worldwide with thousands of people posting before and after photos of cleaned benches, parks, schools, streets, and more. Picking up litter is something that anyone can do when they are outside. Keep a trash bag (preferably paper) in your car and try to make it a habit to collect at least five pieces of trash every time you visit a park or a beach. The small act can make a major difference in your local community. Something simple like picking up rubbish can start a chain reaction.
Base Environmental is collaborating with MCCS to offer an Earth Day event on Tuesday, April 23rd 2019 from 4pm-6pm at Riseley Field on Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The eco-friendly celebration offers sustainable-oriented vendors from across the island including Department of Land and Natural Resources, University of Hawaii Manoa, and City and County of Honolulu Recycle Center. This event is a great opportunity to participate in family-friendly interactive games, displays, and arts & crafts.
To meet the energy challenges of the 21st century, it is important for everyone to consider the effects of their actions at home and in the workplace. Environmentally sustainable practices incorporate wise resource use as a core principle of daily activities to reduce emissions, reduce energy use, and prevent pollution and waste. As an author and zero-waste chef, Anne Marie Bonneau says, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” And you certainly do not need to focus on only April 22 to do your part to help out the Earth. Earth Day is every day — to build a better future for the environment we must all commit to protect our environment every day.