The Earth has limited resources. With an ever-increasing population, we are using those resources at a staggering rate. Plus, some of the waste we generate pollutes our waterways, air and land, which can harm our health, and our natural surroundings.
Each of us has the opportunity to help our planet by remembering to “reduce, reuse and recycle.” You can lead a cleanup of a river, beach or park in honor of Earth Day; use reusable shopping bags; or start a recycling project at work. Whether you like small projects or big ones, physical work or more brainy tasks—there’s a bunch of ways for you to help others go green.
Tasks can range from as little as 15 minutes (to help a neighbor replace old light bulbs with energy-efficient ones) to numerous days - for example, to plan and lead a river cleanup.
Here are some great reasons to do this project:
- Creating a healthier planet for current and future generations.
- Using fewer resources helps lower America’s reliance on foreign energy—and that helps our country in many ways.
- Living greener helps clean up—and preserve—our treasured natural environment.
- Doing green projects with family, friends and neighbors strengthens the bonds that make a vibrant community.
- Involving your children and grandchildren in green projects enables you to teach—and learn from—future generations.
STEP 1: PICK A PROJECT
See list of sample projects in this guide. Determine if you want to help a neighbor, help at work, or organize a project in the community. Consider planning a project for Earth Day, which is April 22 each year.
STEP 2: SET MEASURABLE GOALS
“Meet a neighbor to take public transportation to work three days a week,” is better than “Start taking public transportation to work.” Write down your goals so you can refer to them and track your progress.
STEP 3: RESOURCES
Determine what resources you’ll need to complete the project.
STEP 4: GET STARTED
Go for it! Start as soon as you’re able.
STEP 5: INSPIRE OTHERS ON CREATETHEGOOD.ORG!
KEEP UP THE GOOD!
Visit Create the Good for a range of opportunities to use your life experience, skills and passions to benefit your community.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle! Examples: Buy products with less packaging—like loose potatoes instead of pre-bagged. Use reusable shopping bags. Keep some near the front door or in your car so you remember them when you shop. Recycle paper, plastic and glass.
- Ask a friend to go with you to a farmers’ market and buy local products when possible. A huge amount of energy goes into transporting goods from where they are produced. Stuff produced closer to home uses less of that energy.
- Improve energy efficiency: Replace all light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (they use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs); ensure doors and windows are as draft-proof as possible. (See Operation Energy Save on www.CreateTheGood.org.)
- Work with your bank to change your bills from paper to digital. If every adult in the U.S. did this just once, we would save millions of paper sheets!
- Write a story with your grandchildren about an imaginary trip through the rainforest. Read them picture books about rainforests, mountains, and islands so they can understand why we need to protect these environments.
- Organize a clean-up of a neighborhood park, nearby river (see Clean a River! on www.createthegood.org) or beach, or local school or senior center in honor of Earth Day (April 22).Or, you may want to contact a local organization such as the Boys or Girl Scouts to see if they have an existing project that needs more volunteers.
- Check with your local school or community center to ask about starting a community garden (see Start—or Join—A Community Garden! on www.createthegood.org) or a beautification project such as tree plantings. New trees help to reduce greenhouse gases.
- Work with your faith community to organize a household hazardous waste collection drive, or help promote an existing one in your community. Everyone has old paint, fertilizers, pesticides or other toxic materials stored around the house. Contact your local government to learn how to dispose of those items properly. It’s not hard and you’ll be helping neighbors (and yourself) get rid of toxic chemicals.
- Contact your local officials to ask whether they have environmental efforts in place or underway, and ask them what you can do to help.
- Organize a group of neighbors to identify changes that would make your neighborhood better for walking. (See Sidewalks and Streets Survey on www.createthegood.org.)
- Organize a “Green Team” at work to motivate colleagues to reduce, reuse and recycle. (Be sure to get someone in management to support your efforts.)
- Convince your office building to choose reusable utensils, trays and dishes in the cafeteria. Keep a coffee mug, water glass and utensils at work to reduce your use of disposable dishware.
- Set your office copy machines to automatically copy front to back. If you have a personal printer, re-use scrap paper.Collect used printer, fax and copier cartridges to recycle. Work with your IT department to make sure outdated computers and other electronics are being recycled responsibly. Find recycling centers via www.electronicsrecycling.net
- Car pool or use public transportation to and from work.
If you are interested in additional information and ways to get involved in helping the environment, here are just a few organizations you may want to check out:
Earth Day Network - www.earthday.net
Earth Day Network was founded on the premise that all people, regardless of race, gender, income, or geography, have a moral right to a healthy, sustainable environment. The Earth Day Network provides information for environmental education and greening schools, and is always looking for volunteers to help organize or staff Earth Day events and provides useful green tips and activities for families.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - www.epa.gov
As the leading source on environmental science, research, education and assessment efforts, the EPA is an important resource on information, volunteer opportunities, as well as tips and actions that people can take at work, home or at school.
National Wildlife Federation - www.nwf.org
With more than 4 million members, partners and supporters in communities, the National Wildlife Federation is the largest conservation organization in the country. Members can get involved in restoring wildlife habitats, fighting global warming and connecting with nature.
U.S. National Park Service - www.nps.gov
Safeguarding nearly 400 sites, the National Park Service works with over 2 million volunteers to help educate visitors and preserve history throughout America. There are multiple opportunities to get involved with or volunteer for the National Park Service; the organization is always looking for more help.
American Rivers - www.americanrivers.org
Among other river-saving efforts, American Rivers provides information and support to volunteers who want to organize a clean up of a local river, stream, lake or beach. Check out the National River Cleanup section of the site.