Saturday, April 17, 2010

IMHO: A simple "act of green" makes everyday an Earth Day

Even before I identified myself as an ecofeminist, I believed that we are the guardians of the earth. It is our responsibility to do what we can to take care of it during our lifetimes. The responsibility is passed down through the generations.

This is a responsibility I take very seriously.

When I think back, it was instilled in me by my late parents, Chet and Marie. Mom and dad weren't perfect -- but this was one this they did right.

My dad was an organic gardener. I grew up in Royal Oak on a "little farm in the city." My family enjoyed a big garden every summer with corn, tomatoes, cukes, carrots, green beans, peas, green peppers, and onions. Dad also grew raspberries and strawberries. Our mini backyard orchard produced cherries, apples, plumbs and peaches.

Now, I suppose we could call my dad an urban farmer.

Dad did composting before it was cool. It was a natural thing in our house to place coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peelings, and egg shells in a little covered bucket by the kitchen sink. It was regularly emptied into a home-made compost contraption in the very back of the yard. Dad also added grass clippings, and even pesky crab apples.

Now, you can buy pretty compost buckets made especially for that purpose and fancy composters to use.

Dad would work the compost back into the soil. It became so rich that he never had to use commercial fertilizer.

He ordered boxes of lady bugs and praying mantis to control harmful insects such as aphids. The boxes would sit in the freezer to keep the insects dormant. Then, in the spring, they would be "thawed out" and released in the garden.

Since we lived on the busy street corner of Lexington Boulevard and Main Street, we would get a lot of garbage tossed between the curb and the sidewalk. Dad would take a daily walk to pick it up and keep it neat.

My folks recycled before there were curbside programs. Dad would save coffee cans, glass bottles, and newspapers in the garage -- much to the dismay of my school chums -- and then take them to the recycling center.

Mom was big on garage sales. Although a sale was more of a social event in the neighborhood, she did manage to recycle clothes, toys, tools, and knickknacks we no longer used or wanted.

Dad was strict about conserving electricity and water. "Just wait until you're paying the bills," he used to say.

It seems that mom and dad lived pretty green. I don't remember celebrating Earth Day growing up -- although it's been around in the U.S. since 1970 -- but we made these practices part of our daily routine so that everyday was an Earth Day.

I do the same things in my daily 21st century life when it's considered cool to be "green" and practice things I've done my entire life.

I love the "One Million Acts of Green" project launched in Canada by Cisco -- an information technology and communications company -- in 2008.

The crux of the campaign is that everyone can make a difference with just one little "act of green," because they all add up.

An act of green is defined as "an opportunity to help the environment ... a contribution to help fight global warming."

Here are some acts of green Chris and I have done, and continue to do:

>Signing up for "Green Currents" through DTE Energy.

>Recycling on a regular basis through Troy's curbside program.

>Using reusable bags instead of paper or plastic when we shop.

>Replacing toxic cleaners -- like toilet bowl cleaner -- with eco-friendly plant-based products.

>Planting trees (four on our property in the last 10 years.)

>Adopting a vegetarian diet.

>Striving to buy 10% organic produce and other products.

>Buying local produce when we can.

>Encouraging others to do these things too.

Some of these practices take commitment and practice. Others are simple and require just a little forethought.

Cisco has sponsored a website where you can keep track of your "acts of green" and pledge to do others. So far, I've decreased my carbon footprint by 11,198 Kg a year.

You can do this too. Go to and start a personal "acts of green" account.

Please join us to make everyday and Earth Day.

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