Published April 22, 2013
Today is Earth Day. As you may have gleaned from reading my blogs over the last few years, I try to live every single day with a deep awareness of this planet, its environment, and how it all affects our health.
It isn’t always easy, but I try to do a little bit each day to positively impact the Earth. Think about the amazing effects that would happen if you did the same – and so did your neighbors and their friends, and on and on until we are all programmed to consider the lasting consequences of our presence on this giant, spinning orb.
We’ll be doing just that all week long at Hackensack University Medical Center, where the Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center is housed. Each day is dedicated to cleaning up the environment in some way, but these activities need not be limited to our community. You can also participate in Earth Week, and spread the gospel to your family and friends. Who knows – maybe they’ll pick up some lifelong habits along the way.
Monday: Learn about TerraCycle, a company aiming to eliminate the idea of waste by creating national recycling systems for previously non-recyclable or hard-to-recycle items. Join one of their Brigade programs, and then collect old shoes, pens, markers, chip bags, or diaper packaging you have around the house. Ship it off to your designated TerraCycle facility, and you’ll receive points that can be redeemed for a variety of charitable gifts, or directed toward the non-profit organization of your choice. It’s innovative, it’s easy, and it’s the least you can do!
Tuesday: Do you have an old cellphone, computer, camera or iPod, and no clue what to do with it? Who doesn’t? Recycle your E-Waste safely and responsibly by finding a local collection site, and asking about their disposal or redistribution methods. Whether these products are ultimately donated to charities, schools, or nursing homes, or recycled in such a way that ensures toxic materials are properly handled, E-Waste recycling has many long-term, wide-reaching benefits.
Wednesday: Planting trees to benefit the Earth and its environment is not an immediately gratifying endeavor – but the lasting effects are profound. Not only are trees visually pleasing (and therefore stress-reducing), but they also filter pollution from the air; create natural shade (which lowers home energy costs); improve soil and water quality; and absorb noise. If you can’t find a tree planting activity near your home this week, donate to a non-profit that plants trees year-round.
Thursday: Who among us doesn’t have a mountain of paper piled high in the office, or on the kitchen table, or pretty much anywhere? Set aside some time to go through these massive, often overwhelming stacks, and recycle the documents, newspapers, and magazines you no longer need. Shred sensitive documents, bag up the paper, and recycle that too. It’s a mentally freeing activity, and wonderful for the environment. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to show your kids just how easy it can be to help the Earth!
Friday: Celebrate your week of doing right by the planet by cooking an Earth-friendly meal, comprised of organic, sustainably grown ingredients. Better yet, make it a vegetarian meal: Meat production pollutes the air and water, requires massive amount of land, and wastes precious energy. Supporting local, organic farmers reduces your carbon footprint, and increases your health – fruits and vegetables grown close to home use less gas in transit, and lose fewer nutrients before they hit the table.
Note: Information provided herein is not intended to treat or diagnose any health condition. As always, consult your health care provider with any questions or health concerns.