It's Been 40 Years?

April 22, 2010

Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Since that first celebration, we’ve made progress in cleaning up the most visible forms of pollution (remember the river in Cleveland, OH, that used to catch fire?). Our air and water are both cleaner than they were in the 1970s. While this is good, that doesn’t mean that all environmental dangers are gone, of course.

Photo courtesy

Whether or not you believe, for example, that global climate change is due to human actions, I believe that if we can, we should choose a more environmentally friendly way to live. I believe we are connected—with each other, with nature—and what hurts one element of this circle of life eventually hurts us all. Just like with the situation in Haiti, I’m overwhelmed by the issues brought up by environmental groups, conflicting scientific theories, and the myriad of choice beyond paper or plastic. I don’t have the time (or let’s be honest, the desire) to thoroughly research all aspects of “living greener.” So, I’m going back to my “Just One Thing” theory: what one thing can I do today that will make things better for the environment? Well, specifically, today I’ll take my reusable bags to the grocery store and avoid the paper-or-plastic question all together.

The other thing I plan to do is work my way towards using less toxic cleaning supplies. My husband and son (and dog) suffer from allergies, and I wonder if using more natural cleaning supplies might help them a little. I also hate the idea of pouring caustic chemicals into the water supply. Red Tide is a familiar and unwelcome visitor to the Gulf of Mexico beaches near our home. I already use environmentally-friendly automatic dishwashwer soap, and have experiemented with various commercial “green” cleaners. I’d like to see if I can make my own cleaners for less money. One of the drawbacks for me in the past is that I hate the smell of white vinegar, one of the main ingredients in most home-brewed cleaners. An article in my local newspaper suggested adding essential oils to the mixes to cover up the vinegar smell—a suggestion I’m going to try.

Today, an estimated one billion people in 190 countries will take part in Earth Day activities, according to What about you? What are your concerns about the environment? Do you plan to do anything different this year? Participate in any Earth Day events?

Whatever you choose to do, I wish you a happy Earth Day! Now I think I’ll go outside to enjoy the beautiful Spring weather and give thanks for the blessing of green grass, flowers and fresh air.

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  1. To celebrate I just bought a pink hydrangea--now to figure out where to put it and how to care for it. Can you say impulsive?

  2. Kathy, what a wonderful way to commemorate: a pink hydrangea!

    I just made my own cleaning supplies last week! My sister had started doing it last year and gave me a huge supply for my birthday, which I switched over to -- and not a scent of vinegar in the batch, by the way. :) When I was done with these a few weeks ago, I switched back to whatever was leftover in my supply closet -- only now I couldn't tolerate the eye-watering, chemical intensity of the old stuff. It was really almost painful -- and stinky! My sis was visiting last week, and I asked her to teach me while she was here, and it's super easy. The most fun part, for me, was mixing in the essential oils, as I have a small collection and like to combine the fragrances. Have fun with it!

  3. It really is hard to believe that Earth Day is 40 years old. I have to admit that I didn't do anything special for it. But we do try to do a few things every day. We recycle and compost what we can and I have reusable bags I TRY to remember to take in the store when I shop (unfortunately, the bags stay in the car almost as often as they come inside with me - but I'm working on that). I really like your Just One Thing idea - it makes it all seem less overwhelming.

    Luckily, I don't mind the smell of vinegar. In fact, for my husband and me, that smell is preferable to most of the fragrances in a lot of products. I buy fragrance free whenever I can. I need to do a better job of finding earth friendly cleaners.

  4. Meredith: That's great--a tutorial from your sister!

    Now if I can just convince my husband that the homemade products work well and get the house clean.

  5. Cheryl: I didn't exactly mean to buy the was an impulse buy! I used Earth Day as an excuse, however... :)

    And I can't count the times I've either left the bags at home or in the car. It's now becoming more of a habit, finally.