45 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Posted on Apr 1, 2015 by Theresa Lehman

The 45th anniversary of Earth Day is April 22. How are you and your organization going to recognize and celebrate environmental stewardship? Here are 45 ways to demonstrate your “green” commitment and leadership in honor of Earth Day:

  1. Invite local eco-friendly vendors to set up informational table-top booths at your organization.
  2. Get your area business neighbors together and ask that your local government discuss sustainable initiatives in your community. Ask about any local sustainable committees on which you can actively participate.
  3. Invite an organization, LEED Accredited Professionals or sustainability consultant into your office to show your building’s occupants ways to incorporate sustainable strategies and behaviors at work.
  4. Plant native Wisconsin trees to promote biodiversity.
  5. Provide information to your employees on recycling events in your community. Recycling reclaims valuable resources and ensures proper disposal of harmful materials.
  6. Work with an area non-profit organization to sponsor a donation drive.
  7. Invite local organic farmers into your office to have a “farmers’ market” and introduce CSA programs in your community.
  8. Promote alternative transportation by encouraging employees to bike to work one day per week – raffle off a bicycle to kick-start the program.
  9. Kick-off an office “Green Team” that can champion sustainable initiatives.
  10. Ask your food caters to provide locally-sourced and organic food for your events.
  11. Discontinue use of Styrofoam containers and cups at your office. Purchase glasses and mugs and biodegradable cups.
  12. Provide fair-trade coffee and natural filters at the office.
  13. Drink tap water in lieu of bottled water. You can fill a half-liter bottle 1,740 times from the tap before you use $0.99 of water.
  14. Eliminate soda and other sugary beverages and drink water.
  15. If your office has vending machines, ask about replacing unhealthy snacks.
  16. Adjust the power management settings on your computer to recommended levels, which can cut your computer’s electric consumption in half. Have your IT department make sure computers and other electronic office equipment are in “sleep mode.”
  17. Set your printer default to “double-sided.”
  18. Set up recycling stations throughout the office and ensure that each employee’s workspace has containers for trash as well as paper.
  19. Eliminate unwanted catalogs, junk mail, and credit card promotional offers by removing yourself from solicitation lists. The typical household gets six pieces of junk mail every day.
  20. Take junk out of the trunk! For every 100 pounds of additional weight you remove from your vehicle, you will increase your fuel efficiency two to four percent.
  21. Hire Focus on Energy to do a Professional Home Energy Assessment.
  22. Switch your furnace fan setting from continuous to auto. A continuously running fan can cost households $400 more per year than one set on “auto.”
  23. Recycle an old, inefficient appliance through the Focus on Energy Appliance Recycling Program. They offer FREE pick up and recycling of your old, inefficient, working refrigerators and freezers.
  24. Replace your old water-consuming dishwasher and washing machine with ENERGY STAR products. Dishwashers pre-1994 use 10 gallons of water more per cycle than an ENERGY STAR model.
  25. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR CFL or LED lighting products. Did you know that only 10-15 percent of the electricity that incandescent lights consume results in light? The rest is turned into heat.
  26. Replace your old, leaky, pre-1992 toilet with a WaterSense labeled toilet.
  27. Set up a do-it-yourself system to compost your food waste.
  28. Test the radon levels of your home. Did you know that exposure to elevated radon levels significantly increases your risk for lung cancer?
  29. Identify and maintain the correct tire pressure for your vehicle. One tire that is under-inflated by eight psi will reduce your fuel efficiency by four percent.
  30. Adjust your refrigerator temperature to 39° F and your freezer temperature to 5° F. Freezers and refrigerators function more efficiently when they are full.
  31. Adjust the water heater thermostat from 140° F to 120° F to reduce the risk of scalding and extend the life of your water heater.
  32. Adjust the power management settings of family’s video game consoles to enable automatic power down. Game consoles come from the factory with the energy saving features turned off.
  33. Install a programmable thermostat in your home. Adjusting the thermostat from 68° F (occupied) to 60° F (unoccupied) during the day when no one is home and at night in the winter months, saves approximately 10 percent on your home heating costs. Adjusting the thermostat from 72° F (occupied) to 78° F (unoccupied) during the day and at night in the summer months saves approximately 11 percent on cooling. However, if you can tolerate a constant temperature of 75° F, leaving the thermostat set at 75° F around the clock will yield a savings of 23 percent of cooling costs.
  34. Sprucing up your home? If you are planning to do any interior painting, use nontoxic low- or zero-VOC paints. They do not contain volatile organic compounds, a known carcinogen, and will not have that “new” paint smell, increasing indoor air quality.
  35. Install low-flow aerators on the faucets in your home and office. Aerators will reduce water consumption significantly without compromising water pressure.
  36. Add air purifying Himalayan salt lamps and air cleaning plants to your home to remove toxins from the air.
  37. Replace your existing non-LED outdoor landscaping lights with solar-powered outdoor landscape lights.
  38. Change your furnace filter with MERV-rated filters. The higher the MERV rating, the more particulates the filter will capture.
  39. Install low-flow shower heads that use 1.5 gallons per minute and are self-pressurized. You will save thousands of gallons of water without compromising water pressure. Look for the WaterSense label. Then, try shortening your showers by one or two minutes to save both water and energy required to heat the water.
  40. Use “green” non-toxic cleaning products or all-natural products such as vinegar and baking soda to clean your home. Vinegar is a cheap, natural disinfectant that cuts through caked-on residues. Detoxify your home and join the green cleaning trend.
  41. Get rid of air fresheners that contain dangerous toxins. Use organic essential oils, or open a window to provide fresh air.
  42. Avoid glossy or metallic gift wrap – choose recycled paper, cloth bags or newsprint to wrap that gift. Metallic and glossy papers are toxic.
  43. Use reusable shopping bags when you go grocery shopping. One reusable bag has the potential to offset 20,000 plastic bags over its lifetime. If you must use plastic bags, please recycle them at the recycling stations located in the entrance of nearly all grocery stores.
  44. Change your clothes washer temperature settings from hot wash/warm rinse to warm wash/cold rinse for at least one load per week. Washing clothes in hot water causes clothes to fade and wear out faster. Hang your clothing on clothes racks to dry in lieu of using the dryer, which will also preserve the life of your clothing, as well as save energy.
  45. Install a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home. They will alert you to danger before most people experience any symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

About Theresa Lehman

Dedicating her entire career to sustainable practice, Theresa has worked on more than 70 projects seeking LEED® certification utilizing the LEED®-NC, LEED®-CI, LEED®-CS, LEED®-EBOM, and LEED® for Schools green building rating systems. She has successfully certified projects that have earned LEED® certification at all four award levels including: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Her portfolio of LEED® projects includes many “Wisconsin firsts” such as the first State of Wisconsin LEED® certified project, the first healthcare facility, the first LEED®-EBOM Schools, the first LEED® for Schools project and the first zero-net energy / carbon neutral project–the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center–the “greenest building on the planet” according to Rick Fedrizzi, former President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council.

Get in touch with Theresa Lehman
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