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BLOG INFOJohn December's blog on Web publishing, voluntary simplicity, cities and urbanism, digital photography, life, and various observations

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date22 Apr 2009 12:01 CDT
placeMilwaukee, WI, USA
tagsenvironment, transit, places, resources, housing
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Live Like Earth Day is Every Day

The great Wisconsinite Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day in 1970 to recognize the need for environmental awareness, education, and action. In observing Earth Day, you might do one-time activities like picking up litter or attending an Earth Day gathering. For the longer term, you may have already started some simple habits that can help the environment. For example, you may have chosen to get a reusable grocery bag to carry your purchases from the store home. A reusable bag is a good start, but I challenge you to go beyond the bag--consider starting some longer-term habits that can reduce the amount of resources that you use. In this blog entry, I list some Web sites to help you celebrate the spirit of Earth Day for a lifetime and perhaps save yourself some money and time in the process.

Go beyond the bag!

Notice that big stack of mail in your postal mailbox each day? How much of it is junk mail? You can stop much of this paper from being produced--you can reduce unwanted postal mail. To do this, sign up for the mail preference service at DMAChoice.org and pay particular attention to the link to OptOutPrescreen.com to stop all pre-approved credit card offers from coming to you for life. (You should be able to complete this sign-up on Earth Day itself.) If everyone did this, we could stop large amounts of paper from ever having to be produced, transported, delivered, and recycled. In the case of important (non-junk) mail, find out how you can receive Internet-delivered account statements from your bank, utilities, and other service providers. By reducing junk mail and getting online-only statements, you could be looking at an empty mailbox nearly every day.

Do you spend a great deal of time in your car? If you lived closer to where you need to go, you could walk instead--saving energy and increasing your physical fitness. Do such walkable places exist? Yes--try out WalkScore.com to discover one near you. In the long term, see walkinginfo.org to learn about and advocate for walkability where you live. You can get exercise, accomplish errands, get to work, and have fun in a car-free manner by living close and walking to places you regularly go. A good Earth Day observance would be to go for a walk--or if you can't, find a place where you can.

Small Home
Do you live in McMansion but have a mini-size family? Save the time, expense, and energy use of maintaining, cleaning, heating, cooling, and financing a large place. Examine SmallHouseSociety.org or use rent.com to find a small space.

Reduce Reuse Recycle
Before you even consider recycling, look for ways to reuse existing items, and if you can't use something, give stuff away that still has some value but which is a hassle to sell. Check out how you can donate to Goodwill.org or look at a Freecycle.org group in your area.

Ride a bike! Save your health and the environment at the same time. Own your bike or use SmartBike stations to use a bicycle when you need it. Check out SmartBike.com and bicyclinginfo.org.

Public transportation gets you where you want to go and saves you all the overhead costs and hassles of paying for and maintaining a vehicle dedicated solely to yourself. Transit can save time, money, hassle, the environment, and your health. Check out PublicTransportation.org to use public transportation to get around. On Earth Day, see if your local transit system offers free rides.

Pay only for when you need a car and be car-free otherwise. Registered users can rent a car easily by the hour or day and pick up and return the vehicles at stations throughout a metro area. Look to see if you area has a Zipcar.com or participates in CarSharing.net and rent a car only for the time you need one. A good Earth Day observance would be car-free, if only for a day!

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