Has Earth Day lost its impact among so much environmental fervor?

My kids asked me yesterday morning what we were doing special for Earth Day. I told them I didn’t have any big special plan because I felt like we were trying to do stuff every day.

I told them I thought we were doing a much better job recycling in the kitchen. We’re eating less meat a week trying to reduce the carbon dioxide produced by the animals (as well as the health effect for us). We are reusing toys and clothes for other children. We’re much more conscience of our electrical, gas, and water usage, which has definitely been reflected in our bills.

The school does recycling projects year round. Send in your old shoes for charity. Send in bottle caps for 2-liters that can’t be recycled the regular way. Send in cans. Send in newspapers. There’s always some project going on for the environment.

Rose’s class is even participating in a science competition to build a solar oven and actually cook on it.

So it makes me wonder: Has Earth Day lost its voice in the cacophony of year-round environmentalism? Are the schools doing too much, too little or just the right amount? Have your environmental efforts increased at home? Are you more aware of your choices than you used to be (even a year ago)?

36 comments Add your comment

Jeff

April 22nd, 2010
7:14 am

I have never been into the environment movement. I’m not against it either, kinda neutral. Maybe I have Swiss ancestry and don’t realize it.

motherjanegoose

April 22nd, 2010
7:49 am

We do try to recycle more things than we used to.

This is somewhat related and I was mentioning it to my husband last night.

In many hotels, they put a card next to your bed to say that you will be fine with the housekeeping to leave the same sheets on the bed and not wash them…”saves billions of gallons of water” you can also hang up your towels if you want to re use them. If you want the sheets changed, you put the card on your bed or leave the towels off of the rack.

Now, some hotels are putting in the one serving coffees where you open a plastic pack, throw the wrapper away and insert it into the little coffee pkg. for one use only. No more glass carafe. I do understand not taking a chance at breaking the carafe and/or not washing the carafe with water but we have more PLASTIC in the trash. Do they sort it out ( of each guest’s trash) and recycle it? I do not think so but maybe they do?

catlady

April 22nd, 2010
8:09 am

Off topic: I laughed when I read that some “old hands” at organic gardening were having open houses. They have been doing it for about 20 years. I consider myself an old hand, since I started og in 1974. When I went to a meeting with the co-op ext agent back then, he LAUGHED at me when I wanted brochures on og! Said it never would catch on! Never be productive! I claim the last laugh!

motherjanegoose

April 22nd, 2010
8:16 am

@ catlady…does this count as organic: I put my banana peels and expired milk on my roses…supposedly that is good for them.

Not much of a food gardener here. I was yanked out of bed at 6 a.m. ( before it got hot) when I was a teen to weed 2 rows in our LARGE garden M-F. We had about a quarter acre veggie garden on the farm.

Now, I visit the local farmer’s markets. I do like my flowers though.

Polytron/E2M Sucks

April 22nd, 2010
8:29 am

“Earth Day” and “going green” are generally a joke, and only a “feel good” exercise. The average layperson does not seem to understand this.

Talk show host Mike McConnell, who is VERY blunt, has called out the “going green” idea several times-because the facts don’t add up.

Example: a “green” automobile still takes a tremendous amount of energy to produced during manufacturing. Any “green” savings during ownership pale by comparison to the manufacturing process.

Where do you think that energy typically comes from? Coal, nuclear, etc….

Perhaps we should emphasize practical ideals such as cutting waste (fuel, electricity, etc.) and keeping the environment clean and avoiding the use of soaps and household chemicals that have chemical by-products or remnants that remain in the environment.

Practicality, not a “warm and fuzzy” feeling, please.

Roswell Jeff

April 22nd, 2010
9:09 am

@ Polytron/E2M Sucks – Those are interesting points that definitely need to be exposed. I feel if we don’t “start” to make the effort, we will never get to the goal. At some point, while producing the energy efficient items, they will also come up with advances in the manufacturing process to use less energy. That’s not to say ALL companies will do this, but yes, some will.

I feel earth day is a good reminder to keep moving in the right direction. Our family does seem to be more conscious of the products we use and the impact they have on the environment while being used and during the manufacturing process.

I read an article the other day about laundry soap. Evidently, we all use more soap than is necessary. That takes a bite out of our wallet as well as all that soap in our waste water. They had a figure posted that in the US, there are something like 1200 loads of laundry done every minute. Someone did a test and just the agitation of the washing machine, with clean water, was enough to clean your clothes. Their suggestion was to use half of the recommended detergent and your clothes would still come out clean and fresh. I’ve tried it the last week and have seen no difference in the cleanliness.

Polytron/E2M Sucks

April 22nd, 2010
9:19 am

I should have added the smarmy feel-good “going green” policies imposed now by politicians like those regarding light bulbs, etc. that ultimately have done more harm than good, rather than making a significant impact.

Really I see policies that aren’t sound being put into place and that’s what concerns me. More common sense, more effective ideas (practical), fewer policies, please.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 22nd, 2010
9:26 am

i’ve been looking more closely at the detergents we use — have switched on some but not all. but that’s really a price point thing for me.

JATL

April 22nd, 2010
9:41 am

I think we still need Earth Day -particularly in our schools and community organizations. I’m shocked at how many people STILL don’t recycle their cans and glass (not to mention the other stuff)! I think some of the “green” ideas are full of baloney, but many are logical and will help the planet -and therefore humans -in the long haul. Recycling is SO freaking easy now -if you’re not doing it, why? Almost all waste management services now pick it up, and if not in your area, there are always many recycling centers at places like the fire station where you can take it.

TT

April 22nd, 2010
9:59 am

I had to chime in on this topic. I agree that “going green” is a joke and many companies use as advertising line. Since when using chemicals to clean the house is “green”? However even Tide advertises that they are “green” company (and every company nowdays does).

Here is what i do to save the planet and my money:

1. For house cleaning use 1/2 water and 1/2 soap solution. On tough stains – baking soda and water paste. Nothing else. I calculated that i saved over $400 for a year on cleaning supplies, plus many many plastic bottles and packages.

2. 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water cleaning solution instead of Windex.

3. Use rewashable cloth to dust the house and clean up the messes instead of a paper towel. I can recognize that i have a “swiffer”, but i buy only dry sheets and wet them with water to wash the floor. I just simply cannot buy wet sheets as they come is a plastic container and are made from a material that takes years to disintegrate.

4. Laundry detergent – switched to ALL Clean & Clear. I recently had an allergy from using Tide. My dermatologist said that he sees so many people alergic to Tide that he stoped counting them at 50 as it clearly represented a problem. No any fabric softeners as they stay in a fabric and are very unhealthy for your skin, plus they destroy fabric long term.

3. We do not buy any drinks in cans or packages, besides milk. We have installed reverse osmosis to have filtered drinking water. Cost: $150 for installation and about $ 50 for a new filter every year. Many dollars and plastic bottles saved.

TT

April 22nd, 2010
10:05 am

Polytron/E2M Sucks – regular lightbulbs waste about 70-80 % of energy as it turns it into heat. Changing lightbulbs will save so much energy long term, plus a lot of waste as LED lightbulbs will last for years. There are lightbulbs invented that lasts 10 years. So this regulation does more good than bad.

DB

April 22nd, 2010
10:30 am

TT: My daughter has VERY sensitive skin — the dermatologist and I were on a first-name basis early on. He suggested that if we needed to use fabric softener, use the liquid fragrance-free stuff (the kind you can pour in the little ball that releases during the rinse cycle, since I would NEVER remember to come back to the washer during the rinse cycle!) But really, except for fabrics that have a tendency to cling, I hardly ever use it — the dryer tossing things around keeps things soft. He said that, while there are dryer sheets that are supposedly fragrance-free, it’s often the chemical used to bind the softener to the sheet that is an irritant.

About three years ago, I started making my own detergent — started as a lark, but I find that I actually enjoy it, now. There are lots of recipes for homemade detergent — it works just as well, if not better, than manufactured detergents. I like one that turns into a liquidy gel — I make it in a five-gallon container for about $1.10 a batch, and it lasts for a looong time. I just keep the ingredients on hand (washing soda, borax and Fels soap) and mix up another batch when I run out. It takes about 15 minutes to mix it up the way I do, but for people who prefer a dry, scoopable mixture to a liquid mixture, it would take maybe 5 minutes.

TechMom

April 22nd, 2010
11:04 am

@JATL – I’ll tell you why people don’t recycle- it’s not as convenient as you think. I live in the burbs and we have private trash haulers. Our county mandated that they offer recycling last year. But most charge for it and those that don’t charge, don’t pick it up every week nor is it the same day as the trash pickup. We have a county drop-off location which is neither convenient in location or hours (8am-4pm M-F and 8am-noon on Sat). And I know you’re thinking, so it’s takes a little effort, most things worth while take some effort; but after having bags of stuff pile up in the garage over the course of several weeks because no one has time to drop it off, I gave up on it. I grew up out west where it’s been the norm to recycle for years but the south is just now catching on. We had 3 separate bins for recyclables plus our trash can and everything was put on the curb at the same time and picked up at the same time.

To answer the questions of the day though: yes, I think 1 official Earth Day is less important as we become more oriented to every day being earth day. It is good that schools teach conservation and recycling in schools. If it becomes the norm when kids are young, they’ll stick to those things when they get older. I still remember learning all about water conservation in 4th grade at school. We have tried to become more environmentally friendly at home (other than the recycling of our household trash) but we do buy less, waste less, combine trips, we are replacing our light bulbs as they burn out with energy efficient ones, we turn off electronics/lights when not in use, we don’t water the grass, etc. and we’re getting ready to install a rain barrel when we do our landscaping project in our backyard in a few weeks so I can water the vegetable garden with rain water.

HB

April 22nd, 2010
11:09 am

Has Earth Day lost its impact because people are more earth-conscious and trying to go green everyday?! That IS Earth Day’s impact!!!! :)

JJ

April 22nd, 2010
11:10 am

My philosophy is “If it came from the ground, it goes back to the ground.” I have been composting for two years now. It’s very easy. I cook with fresh food, and when I need to peel a veggie, the peelings and cut off ends go into a Solo cup on my counter. About every other day, I toss that cup full of stuff into a corner of my yard, usually where the dogs go, and all my leaves, grass, etc and veggie remains go there. I bought a pitch fork and I turn the pile once a week.

When I use, the egg shells, along with my coffee grounds, go into another cup, and I mix that into my flower pots on the deck. I had a couple of pots with just potting soil in them, so I used two of them for the egg shells and coffee grounds. This past weekend, when I was potting flowers, I used the dirt mixture, along with new potting soil. So far, so good.

I use the cloth grocery bags now when I go to Publix. I keep them in my car, so I always have them.

I recycle as much as possible. Newspapers, glass, plastic, etc. My new garbage company recycles cardboard now, so I’m tossing in paper towel cardboard centers, etc..

I live without air conditioning, until I can’t stand it any more (usually late July/August it gets turned on). I don’t even turn it on in the car, I just love fresh air.

I drink a TON of tap water, and try not to use bottled water. I have two big huge 32oz Rubbermaid water containers.

TT

April 22nd, 2010
11:16 am

DB – can you post a recepie for laundry detergent? I would love to try it.

Wayne

April 22nd, 2010
11:22 am

We stopped the compost pile when we found it (several times) strewn about the yard due to the local neighborhood bears looking for food.

Same with the bird feeder.

G.R.I.T.S.

April 22nd, 2010
11:33 am

i changed to those wiggly light bulbs a while back…they are more expensive to buy so i bought a few at a time, and ill tell you-they last forever. i havent had to replace one yet and i think ive had them way over a year…i wish i had written down when i changed so i could know a sure time…but im amazed at how long they last. regular bulbs never lasted long at all.

G.R.I.T.S.

April 22nd, 2010
11:35 am

wayne you can fence your compost pile. i live in a rural area and thats what everyone here does…just a chicken wire fence will work.

LM

April 22nd, 2010
11:46 am

DB – I too would like the receipe for the laundry detergent. I also was trying to find a shampoo without sodium lauryl sulfate. I have made many attempts to make a a good homemade shampoo several have been horrible.

As to celebrating Earth Day, I celebrate everyear since it is also my brother’s birthday. Most years I plant something in his name.

OT – I am awaiting verification that my husband has landed in the US and is starting his final journey to Georgia. This will be a Earth Day to celebrate if he makes it to Georgia today, at least in my view.

jd

April 22nd, 2010
12:41 pm

Wow, I was just speaking with a co-worker this morning about a company that we work for that just keeps throwing their chemicals in the ground. It seems to me that one company like this exxxx’s out the efforts of an entire city that’s trying to be green. If every one is really that concerned with environmental issues, take a little more time to learn about the EPD and check out the companies that have violations in place. Business as usual it is with them with NO concern for our environment.

DB

April 22nd, 2010
12:52 pm

@LM — try Googling “shampoos without sodium lauryl sulfate” and you’ll get lots of suggestions, including CVS’s house brand and Burt’s Bees. For a while there, Suave had an SLS-free shampoo, but it got lost in the last re-tooling of the line. (My daughter can’t use SLS, either . . . ) Some of the Dove brands work well. THe probolem is, you have to keep checking ‘em every time, because they change the formulas frequently.

My detergent receipe (my MIL gave it to me!): 1/2 bar Fels soap, 1 cup borax (remember 20-Mule Team Borax? Same thing!), and 1 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda (NOT baking soda!) (Wal-Mart has all these ingredients in the same section — sometimes Publix doesn’t carry the borax.) I shred the 1/2 bar of soap (like cheese) and melt it in a pot of hot water. Just stir it up until it melts. As it melts, pour the borax and the washing soda into your container, gradually add half-a-container of warm water, stirring to dissolve. (make sure to leave enough room in the container to add your pot of hot water/soap. Pour in the Fels mixture, add enough warm water to bring water level near the top. Stir, pop a lid on it. When you open it a few hours later, it may have “jelled” a bit — kinda cool looking :-) Just stir it hard to break it up – it won’t re-jell. Use about a cup of detergent per load. (You can use it “fresh”, you don’t have to wait for it to jell.) The receipe calls for a 5 gal. container (Home Depot has ‘em in the paint department), but I recycle a large kitty-litter container (4 gal), and it works just fine — just use a little less, because it’s a little more concentrated. I think it’s the heat that makes it jell up — my MIL doesn’t bother melting the Fels, she just grates it up and stirs it in tepid water with everything else, and hers doesn’t jell. But I like things all dissolved, so I take the extra step.

DB

April 22nd, 2010
12:53 pm

@LM: Welcome back, Mr. LM!!!!!! Whoohoo!

JATL

April 22nd, 2010
1:05 pm

Yep, I think if you can’t take 30 min once a month to drop off your recycling or pay a bit more for them to pick it up -you have no excuse. I seriously don’t know how people sleep at night knowing all of their glass, plastic, aluminum, cardboard, magazines, newspaper and junk mail is going into an already over-burdened landfill where it will take YEARS -sometimes CENTURIES to decompose. I grew up in a one red-light town in middle Georgia that started a recycling program about 20 years ago. We had to bag it up, store it and make a run out in the country to dump it at the recycling center, but we did it!

Wayne

April 22nd, 2010
1:12 pm

@G.R.I.T.S.: once my wife found out about the bears, that was the end of composting and bird feeder(s). Deer, birds, chipmunks (blasted chipmunks!) turkeys, Fox (kits are cute!) et al, fine, but no bears, thank you very much.

Love Green

April 22nd, 2010
1:29 pm

This blog refuses to accept my post.

shaggy

April 22nd, 2010
1:38 pm

Earth Day. It really won’t matter in a couple hundred years. The population will continue to grow expoentially, until the Earth’s resources won’t support the billions of humans that will surely be fighting for the last morsels. Then, it will collapse. Maybe a few humans will (or higher animals for that matter) survive that have inherited a once beautiful planet that is now a used up pile of rocks in space. After that, give the old Earth a 100,000 years or so, it will be on the way to repairing the damage done by Homo Sapiens and their religion of reproduction for reproduction’s sake.
Will we make it? Do we deserve to.
Happy Earth Day!

LM

April 22nd, 2010
1:56 pm

DB – I have been finding a few shampoos, some are easy to find like Bert Bees, and like you said, read the label. Some of the homemade were desasters, one had my hair so oily it hung in greassy lanks until I could re-wash it. I don’t dry my hair and thought it felt “odd” but didn’t realize how bad it was until is air dried.

Just got a email, he is in MD and waiting for connecting flights to get to GA, WOOT WOOT, can’t wait !!

Roswell Jeff

April 22nd, 2010
2:20 pm

We have it good in Roswell as far as the recycling goes. It can’t get much easier… throw it all in one bin and take it to the curb. They take most everything.

Geez, Shaggy...

April 22nd, 2010
2:24 pm

…about 100K years from now – I won’t be here, and neither will you, so, no, WE will not make it…and, who you callin’ a “homo”?

JJ

April 22nd, 2010
2:24 pm

Same in Sugar Hill. One container, everything in it, picked up on garbage day.

Tea Party Protest Sign Spell Chequer

April 22nd, 2010
3:36 pm

The reason they are called lad fills is so we can fill them up!

FCM

April 22nd, 2010
4:13 pm

We need to bring back the crying Native American campaign. You remember that guy?

Anyway why is it the SCHOOL’s job to teach recycling? Like everything else this should BEGIN at home. Besides, do you know how many milk cartons the schools trash a year? The paper towels? The plastic bags?

Going green in practical ways (open your windows not turn on the A/C for example) should be promoted but much of that is lost in the silliness of the discussions.

Recycling clothes is done at our house all the time. My two are about the same size and when they are done with the clothes they either go to good will or a friend’s child. I am working on them about the toys…they have a tougher time giving that up.

Dave Gorak

April 22nd, 2010
4:49 pm

No mention of the fact that Earth Day is 40 years old, nor a “thank you” for its founder, Gaylord Nelson.

No mention, either, of the fact that Nelson’s chief concern was unsustainable population growth and that he warned against the continuance of high immigration levels, which is responsible for much of this growth today. In fact, the Census Bureau is projecting immigration will be responsible for 80 percent of the 100 million people added to our population by 2050.

What’s to celebrate?

Dave Gorak
Executive director
Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration
LaValle, WI

jan

April 22nd, 2010
7:02 pm

What a crock!!! Love my wood-burning fireplace, cut trees to do that. Turn my air down to 66 during the hot summer, recycle that takes way too long, love my grocery bags will never take a bag into a store to fill it up with stuff I have bought there – they can at least give me a bag for it. Will always drive a gas car, use clorox to kill germs, and drano crystals to clean out my drains. I also flush old medicine down the toliet. It’s just like Al Gore said, oh yeah, he lied – nevermind. B

DB

April 22nd, 2010
8:56 pm

I guess the thing with Earth Day, to me, is that it seems to bring out the doomsayers, who get so much publicity — when their dire predictions don’t pan out, it’s hard to take other Cassandras any more seriously. When Earth Day was first organized, ecologists and biologists were predicting the end of life as we knew it within 10-15 years. I could be wrong — but while I see more awareness of recycling, I don’t think it’s been so much that we managed to avert mass starvation and extinction by recycling a few Coke cans and taking our newspapers to the curb. I do think that there’s more room for ecological awareness, but I sure do get tired of hear how “green” everyone is, when the only thing they’ve done is changed the packaging and stuck a picture of a leaf on the front.