Now that Earth Day, April 22nd, has passed, let’s vow to be better stewards of the earth every single day of the year. Every choice we make should be a conscious one, for our own sake and for the health and longevity of the planet. Here are some great tips for helping to make every day Earth Day:

BUY LOCAL FOOD & EAT LESS MEAT – Most of the energy that goes into food production is used in transporting the food to its final location. Locally grown produce, eggs, and meat have a dramatically lower impact on the environment. For local food in Western Mass visit CISA/Buy Local  Eating less meat is crucial for a healthy lifestyle and a healthy planet.  Healthy Diet/Healthy Planet  When you go to the grocery store or farmer’s market, you are voting with your dollars on what type of agriculture system you want to support. Read more in-depth about why Organic Matters.

REUSE SHOPPING BAGS – Get yourself some attractive reusable bags and keep them in your car. Moving forward, simply decline plastic/paper bags from cashiers (many communities have restricted use of plastic bags) and don’t use individual bags for your produce at the grocery store. Scientists estimate that every square mile of ocean contains approximately 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it. So consumers can have a massive impact on that statistic by making this small shift to shopping routines.

REPLACE PLASTIC – instead of plastic water bottles, go with a reusable one filled with filtered tap water and you’ll save money and free up landfill space. Bottled Water Facts.

CONSERVE WATER – A leaky toilet can waste 3–7 gallons of water per flush. That can add up to as much as $400 a year in water bills. To check for leaks, add a couple drops of food coloring to the tank. If you have a leak, color will appear in the bowl within 15 minutes. Fix the leak (faulty flappers, floats, and handles are the usual suspects) or better yet, buy a new more efficient toilet or Dual-Flush toilet. Conserve water with a high-efficiency showerhead without sacrificing performance. That means less work for your water heater, too. Turning off the tap while you brush your teeth and turning off the water while you shampoo and condition your hair will save gallons per minute. 

GREEN HOME PRODUCTS – Purchase sustainably manufactured products for the home, like FSC certified wood, natural Marmoleum, and other Green Flooring products we carry . Use non-toxic cleaning products made with plant- and mineral-based ingredients like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day  Avoid paints and other products containing VOC’s. Low VOC paints and no VOC paints are available from our neighbors at Florence Paint.

RECYCLE – How many of us bring a cardboard beverage holder home to recycle versus just throwing it in the trash for convenience? Almost everything is recyclable these days, from paper products to electronics, so there is almost always a positive alternative to sending something to the landfill. According to the National Recycling Coalition, these are the top 10 most important items to recycle: aluminum, PET plastic bottles, newspaper, corrugated cardboard, steel cans, HDPE plastic bottles, glass containers, magazines, mixed paper and computers. Eliminate paper waste by paying bills online.

MONITOR ENERGY USE & INVEST IN ENERGY STAR APPLIANCES – If you haven’t yet, you may want to schedule an Energy Audit with Mass Save   You can also audit the energy use of your appliances with an inexpensive energy monitor. Help the environment and your budget with ENERGY STAR®-qualified appliances. You’ll use 10–50 percent less energy than standard models. Ask your utility company if rebates are available.

MIND YOUR THERMOSTAT – Heating and cooling costs account for nearly half of most households’ energy bills. Try a programmable thermostat, when used correctly, it can save you hundreds of dollars per year.

SWITCH TO DIMMERS – You can control light, set the mood, and save on electricity with a designer-style dimmer for dimmable CFL and LED bulbs. It also works with halogen and incandescent bulbs. LEDs last longer than compact fluorescents and standard incandescent bulbs reaping long-term savings. LEDs contain no mercury, use only 2–10 watts of electricity, and are cool to the touch.

SHOP FOR SMART WINDOWS – Replace old windows with ENERGY STAR-qualified models and you can save hundreds annually.

CHANGE AIR FILTERS – Change air filters regularly for optimum furnace performance.

PLANT A TREE – Add beauty to your home—and save money—by planting a tree. Shade trees can keep buildings up to 20 degrees cooler in the summer and help lower your air-conditioning bill. Source: United States EPA. Article on Fast Growing Shade Trees  Much of Western Mass is Zone 5, or click here to look up your zone: Massachusetts USDA Hardiness Zone Map “He who plants a tree plants hope.” – Lucy Larcom

COMPOST YOUR WASTE – Compost nourishes gardens much better than commercial fertilizers by improving the quality of soil and its water-holding capacity. Good soil means less watering, more attractive gardens and less garbage in the landfill. Yay, compost! Northampton’s Pedal People offer compost services.

ROLL OUT A RAIN BARREL – Reduce your water usage by collecting rain and using it to water your lawn and garden (check local regulations). Follow this link for water conservation information from MassDEP.

USE NATIVE PLANTS – Native plants use less water, require less maintenance, and attract wildlife. Native Plants for Massachusetts  Native shrubs can also help provide food for local wildlife Native Shrubs. Mass Audubon recommends these native plants for pollinators.

ENJOY THE GREAT OUTDOORS – If we have a relationship with the environment, we are more likely to identify as connected to it, and feel a responsibility to protect it. Getting outside for a walk, gardening, or otherwise connecting with nature also provides a wonderful mood booster. Volunteer with a local group or join Connecticut River Conservancy group efforts to clean up the environment, and while you’re pitching in you’ll also enjoy the social aspect of meeting other nature lovers.

RETHINK TRANSPORTATION – Walking, biking, or riding the bus to work just one day a week lowers your carbon footprint and is good for your health. Commute Without Polluting: take mass transit or at least carpool if you can. Best of all, ride a bike! There are huge physical and fiscal benefits to biking. The obesity rate for adults is at almost 36 percent in the U.S., while countries like the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, which promote biking as transportation, have the lowest incidence of obesity.

VOTE TO PROTECT THE PLANET – The League of Conservation Voters keeps a National Environmental scorecard on every member of Congress. Read the Scorecard.

Thank you for supporting Earth First Flooring and other sustainable local businesses.      Together we can make every day Earth Day!