Whether you get your news from the Internet or the newspaper, the statistics are shocking. Eighty percent of the world’s marine fish stocks are fully exploited or destined for extinction; almost two million people die every year from unclean water; nouveau riche tourists continue to purchase poached rhino horns on the black market, decimating entire herds. The planet is crying out for help.
“Our Planet in Peril.” That’s been the theme of Earth Month, April 2015. Its message extends all the way from Hanoi, Vietnam to Colorado Springs, Colorado and everywhere between. Listen closely, and you’ll learn that the sole difference between a healthy planet and an imperiled planet is personal choice.
Simple Solutions to Conserve Water
To start, you can choose to conserve water. About 75 percent of Colorado Spring’s water flows through enormous pipes connecting local reservoirs to the Rocky Mountains surrounding faraway Aspen and Breckenridge A typical household uses a whopping 260 gallons per day! You can reduce your consumption by installing low-flow showerheads, dual-flush toilets and WaterSense-certified dishwashers. You can hand wash your car and design drought-resistant landscapes. And would you please fix that drip, drip, drip that’s been on your Honey-Do list for the past three months? For even more information about conserving water, research the Pikes Peak Region 2030 sustainability plan.
What About Energy-Efficient Appliances?
Now, this is the paragraph where you would usually read about “smart” power strips, grid-connected solar panel systems, residential micro-wind turbines, fluorescent light bulbs and all manner of things that would be mentioned for the sake of conserving energy. While all these things are useful, you can’t just buy the latest super-efficient gadget to soothe your conscience. You have to change your lifestyle, and that means letting dishes and clothes air dry, enjoying “staycations,” and driving under 65 mph.
Promoting Renewable Energy Sources
Although the energy generation mix varies significantly from state to state, coal, natural gas and nuclear power make the lion’s share just about everywhere. Therefore, every watt you use is another hole drilled. With energy rates rising alongside the Earth’s temperature, that simply isn’t sustainable. For efficient energy solutions, look to the Energy Working Group of Colorado Springs, a member of the Green Cities Coalition. The EWG researches sustainable community solutions, like wind power and permaculture, and leverages its influence and knowledge for community promotion.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Repeat
Similar tactics are wielded by the Recycling Coalition of Colorado Springs, a grassroots group “talkin’ trash” since 2000. The coalition is essentially waging war against the landfill mentality. Compost and donate instead! The group answers the hard questions: How do you recycle fire extinguishers? Hazardous household chemicals? Old tires? By promoting the three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle – it minimizes the river of waste that pollutes water sources and dirties the atmosphere.
Damming the River of Waste
Much of that river of garbage begins in places like Arby’s or Wal-Mart, places where food travels thousands of miles from farm to plate to be sold in plastic or Styrofoam packaging. An easy way to reduce “food miles” is to eat local. Family-owned farms may use fewer chemicals and GMO’s than their corporate monoculture cousins. Plus, science says, organic produce often tastes sweeter than, say, Wal-Mart produce. Check out Local Foods Colorado Springs to find a student garden or locally-sourced restaurant near you.
Go Green; Go Outside!
And, of course, who could discuss “going green” in Colorado Springs without mentioning all the bike paths? More than 100 miles of multi-use urban trails crisscross the city, including the famed pathways of the Garden of the Gods. If you can, walk or bike to work. If you can’t, walk or bike for exercise, for fun and a good laugh.
And if you can’t do that, then walk for the fish and walk for the water; bike for the white rhinoceroses and the redwood forests. Eat local, conserve water, reduce energy and recycle products. Our imperiled planetary home needs our help now more than ever.
Thank you to Maria Ramos for this guest post!