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Practice Earth Day principles throughout the year

  • Published Thursday, April 25, 2013, at 7:04 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, April 25, 2013, at 7:04 a.m.

It’s the ultimate celebration of Mother Earth – one day, set aside each year in honor of protecting the planet.

Most of us probably take it for granted, assuming someone else will pick up the slack if we choose not to recycle or pollute. But it’s meaningful, even powerful, if we make a commitment to caring for the planet.

Earth Day was celebrated Monday, and as in years past on April 22, more than a billion people marked the day in some way.

It’s a day about protecting the planet and keeping it around for the next generation of our children and grandchildren. Can you honestly tell your son or granddaughter you chose not to utilize ways to protect groundwater or make the air easier to breathe? The methods to do so are not difficult; in fact they can become part of our everyday life. It’s essential – even critical – to implement earth-friendly activities into your life.

Earth Day came to be in 1970, after founder Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, witnessed a massive oil spill in California and wanted people to rally around prevention of air and water pollution, forcing environmental protection onto the national political agenda.

On April 22 that year, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, the loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day was born and the first celebration led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts.

Wichita is fortunate to have an organization for businesses to come together and learn ways to care for Earth.

Green Biz Wichita was established in 2010 and has grown to include more than 80 local businesses and companies. It provides active education, partnership, advocacy and recognition programs designed to encourage local businesses to reduce the environmental impact of their operations.

Annually Green Biz Wichita measures and tracks individual companies as they work toward sustainability and serves as a local conduit for businesses to network and become inspired. To join and learn more, go to greenbizwichita.org.

This week, as you consider the ways you and your business can change your world, you might want to start here:

• A faucet leaking one drop per second wastes more than 1,300 gallons per year. A leak from a hot water source wastes both water and fossil fuel, creating more greenhouse gasses. Most repairs to plumbing fixtures pay for themselves within just a year.

• Cleaning products that contain chlorine or petroleum distillates expose your family to toxins and wind up in the ecosystem. Go green by choosing nontoxic, naturally derived cleaning products, which are proven effective but won’t cause long term damage to the Earth.

• Pick a pack of recycled paper versus new. Every year, pulp mills release more than one trillion gallons of chlorine-tainted water as part of the paper-making process. Using the other side of the paper can cut that pollution almost in half.

• Return hangers to the dry cleaners, donate clothing and computers to charities and pack lunches in reusable containers instead of bags. A quick Google search will uncover hundreds of easy ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.

• Each year Americans waste more than 700 million gallons of gasoline each year because tires aren’t properly inflated. Millions more are wasted because our vehicles aren’t properly tuned up. If people would occasionally ride a bike for a short errand instead of driving a car, more than 70 million gallons of fuel would be saved each year.

• When the lights come on make sure they are compact fluorescent lamps. Compared to regular bulbs, CFLs last 10 times longer, use one fourth the energy and produce 90 percent less heat.

Let it grow

One of the most popular Earth Day activities is to plant a tree. This is a great way to care for the environment as a tree generates $31,250 worth of oxygen during its lifetime and provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control.

In addition, that tree recycles $37,500 worth of water and controls $31,250 worth of soil erosion. It also provides shade that keeps homes and cities cooler.

Green Biz Wichita wants you to do your part to celebrate the earth. We think it will make you and the planet feel better.

Dixie Larson is a partner with CPA and consulting firm Kennedy and Coe and founder and president of Green Biz Wichita, Inc., a B2B organization dedicated to helping the Wichita environment. For more information, go to greenbizwichita.org or contact Larson at 316-691-3706.

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