Earth Day, Earth Month, Earth Life
What began as a national day of environmental awareness in 1970 has evolved into a month long resolution
to be more green, more eco-conscious, and more intent on protecting our planet. Earth Day, observed yearly on April 22nd, and Earth month, running through all of April, unite almost 200 countries in initiatives to educate all people about environmental issues that threaten global well-being. But education is only one aspect of Earth month. The true breakthrough comes from the citizens of the world applying this education and acting in ways that will truly help preserve the planet for all future generations.
The Hispanic Population and the Global Environment
As the largest ethnic minority in the United States, the Hispanic population is working hard to give back to its Mother Earth. A 2012 research survey by the Sierra Club, in conjunction with the National Council of La Raza, found that nearly 92 percent of Latinos agree that they “have a moral responsibility to take care of God’s creations on this Earth – the wilderness and forests, the oceans, lakes and rivers.” Another 92 percent of Latinos believe that climate change is already happening or will happen in the future, and 94 percent say that they value outdoor activities as important for them and for their families.
In fact, as the fastest growing workforce in the country, Hispanics are also contributing to the environment by pursuing green professions. On average, green jobs tend to pay 13 percent more than other occupations and, because higher degrees are not always required, it presents career opportunities widely accessible to Latinos.
One industry not usually thought of as a green industry is the landscape and lawn care profession. According to a recent study by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanics are the second largest group represented in landscaping and account for 16 percent of business owners within the industry, almost double their national average of ownership in all other industries. “Landscapers are the real environmentalists,” said Ralph Egues, Executive Director of the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance. “They don’t just care about the environment, they care for it; and they make it better every day.” Landscapers do much more than trim grass, they contribute to the environment by ensuring that our green spaces are producing oxygen, sequestering carbon dioxide, and benefiting us aesthetically and physically.
5 Easy Ways To Be Green
Fortunately, being green doesn’t require a green profession, a degree in environmental science, or even an exaggerated effort. These 5 simple steps can help you on your path towards becoming a planet protector.
· Control your faucet flow
Did you know that a regular faucet can use about two to three gallons of water per minute? Shutting it off between brushing teeth and shaving can save over 200 gallons of water per month! This simple act will save money while at the same time allow more water to stay in natural reservoirs, maintaining a healthy environmental balance. And don’t forget to check for leaks! According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, an average home leaks enough water each year to fill a backyard swimming pool.
· Reduce your energy use
Not only is energy costly, but its production is often known to have adverse consequences on the environment. About 54 percent of the utility bill in a typical U.S. home is consumed in heating and cooling expenses. An effective strategy is to program your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer, making sure to optimize the use of windows to let in warm sunshine or cool breezes. Try enabling the “sleep” and “hibernate” modes on computers, allowing them to use much less power during inactivity, and always be sure to turn off the light when leaving a room!
· Use less paper
Around 40 percent of all waste going to landfills is paper. For example, the average American uses around 6 napkins per day, totaling an approximate 2,200 napkins per year. If everyone in the United States used only one less napkin per day, we could keep over one billion pounds of waste from landfills each year. With paper being so essential, trying printing on both sides, and only print when absolutely necessary. Studies found that recycling only the Sunday newspapers is equivalent to saving over half a million trees every week.
· Proper lawn and garden care
Lawns and gardens impact the surrounding environment by reducing the amount of smog and dust that carry disease-causing bacteria and viruses. A well maintained 50 by 50 foot lawn provides enough oxygen for a family of four, while also storing four times more carbon from the air than is produced by the machines maintaining it. Go easy on the raking; leaves and lawn clippings can often serve as fertilizer, making sure your lawn stays healthy. Proper lawn and garden care will add to the value of your home, while increasing your green footprint.
· Choose a green landscaper
Many landscape service providers are taking an active approach to becoming greener companies. For example, RulyScapes, a landscape company in Virginia, makes a conscious effort to recycle everything they use. This practice not only saves the client money, but makes the earth a safer and healthier place. By choosing green-conscious landscapers, you are partnering in initiatives of global significance.