Happy Earth Day!
How fun that this next post in our Happy, Healthy Series is falling on Earth Day! What could be more appropriate than a post dedicated to sharing about cultivating a Happy, Healthy Earth?!
When I think about stewarding the earth well, I tend to think about 3 main categories for earth care--caring for the land/soil, caring for the water supply, and caring for the air. Of course, I realize this is very oversimplified. Yet, there is so much we can do even at these very basic levels to help improve the quality and sustainability of the earth we inhabit. This week, I'm going to share some of our family's practices for stewardship in each of these areas. Small things become big things when they are accomplished by the masses. May we each do our part to care for the beautiful creation that is planet earth!
According to the Conservation Institute, the basic definition of land pollution is the destruction and contamination of the land through the direct and indirect actions of humans. The Institute lists 6 main causes of land pollution. These include: deforestation/soil erosion, agricultural chemicals, industrialization, mining, landfills and human sewage. Some effects of land pollution include: ground water poisoning, water nutrient enrichment such as elevated nitrogen levels, loss of topsoil, shifting habitat, and an increased risk of wildfires. Furthermore, the impact of land pollution is not limited just to the earth and animals. Humans also experience negative consequences that can influence quality of life and health, including birth defects, the development of breathing disorders, skin diseases, and cancer. Most of these develop after exposure to waste from water poisoning and soil contamination.
So what can we do? Here are a some of our strategies to help reduce pollution of the land/soil:
Support sustainable agriculture producers who are addressing soil health through their practices by purchasing from organic and biodynamic farms
Avoid using lawn chemicals, and instead, embrace the beauty of flowering "weeds" that provide nourishment for the bees
Support small, sustainable producers and companies over large industrial companies through our purchases
Compost produce scraps to reduce our weekly garbage load
Meal plan and cook minimally to avoid prepared food waste
Use reusable containers and napkins to decrease garbage load
Recycle plastics, metals, glass and paper/cardboard
Use reusable cloth bags instead of plastic
Use a water filter with reusable bottles/cups instead of buying filtered water bottles
Water pollution occurs when harmful substances like chemicals or microorganisms contaminate a stream, river, lake, ocean, aquifer, or other body of water, degrading the water quality and rendering it toxic to humans or the environment. According to the most recent surveys on national water quality from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nearly half of our rivers and streams and more than one-third of our lakes are polluted and unfit for swimming, fishing, and drinking. Nutrient pollution, which includes nitrates and phosphates, is the leading type of contamination in these freshwater sources.
Sadly, the biggest culprit of water pollution is agriculture.
"Not only is the agricultural sector the biggest consumer of global freshwater resources, with farming and livestock production using about 70 percent of the earth’s surface water supplies, but it’s also a serious water polluter. Around the world, agriculture is the leading cause of water degradation. In the United States, agricultural pollution is the top source of contamination in rivers and streams, the second-biggest source in wetlands, and the third main source in lakes. It’s also a major contributor of contamination to estuaries and groundwater. Every time it rains, fertilizers, pesticides, and animal waste from farms and livestock operations wash nutrients and pathogens—such bacteria and viruses—into our waterways. Nutrient pollution, caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in water or air, is the number-one threat to water quality worldwide and can cause algal blooms, a toxic soup of blue-green algae that can be harmful to people and wildlife."
SOURCE: Natural Resources Defense Council
So what can we do? Here are a some of our strategies to help reduce pollution of the water and to conserve water:
Limit showers to 5 minutes
Use "waste water" from unfinished drinking water to water plants
Collect rain water to water plants
Embrace an imperfect lawn, by avoiding watering (other than for newly planted grass seed)
Use eco-friendly cleaning products, dishwashing products, soaps and body care products, and laundry supplies
Use reef-safe sunscreens
Avoid dumping medications or chemicals down the drain
Support producers who do not use harmful herbicides, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics by purchasing organic or local (chemical free) food products
Did you know that each year 4.2 million deaths come about as a result of exposure to ambient (outdoor) air pollution? Did you know that 91% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality exceeds World Health Organization guideline limits? These findings are a result of research published just this year by the WHO. The major outdoor pollution sources include vehicles, power generation, building heating systems, agriculture/waste incineration and industry. Furthermore, more than 3 billion people worldwide rely on polluting technologies and fuels (including biomass, coal and kerosene) for household cooking, heating and lighting, releasing smoke into the home and leaching pollutants outdoors. Air quality is closely linked to earth’s climate and ecosystems globally.
The WHO lists the following strategies to help combat this growing problem:
Expanding access to clean household fuels and technologies
Prioritizing rapid urban transit, walking and cycling networks
Promoting energy-efficient buildings and urban design
Improving waste management
Increasing electricity production from renewable power sources
Although much of this work happens at the policy-making level and among governing bodies, there are some small actions we can take. One way that our family tries to do our part is by walking rather than driving as much as possible. Choosing to live within walking distance of our business and popular recreation spots in town was a big part of our decision making process when deciding where to buy a home. We also keep our utility usage as low as possible by shutting off lights that are not in use, reducing our weekly laundry burden through re-wearing clothing and re-using towels, setting our heat at 64 in the winter and our A/C at 79 in the summer (unless we're entertaining guests who can't tolerate those temperatures :)).
The bottom line is, there is always something that can be done. Rather than being overwhelmed and getting stuck in inaction, we can all do small things to help address land, water and air pollution. This Earth Day, those of us at BE WELLness would like to encourage you to begin doing your small part to promote a Happy, Healthy Earth. And, if you're looking for an opportunity to purchase organic and local (chemical free) products, our retail location Simply Nourished is available in Clear Lake as an option to find what you're looking for.
We also hope you'll stop by and see us at the Green Expo this Thursday at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake from 4-7PM!