Happy Earth Day

Following-up from her guest post on Earth Hour, Stacey McCarthy, Communications Specialist from WWF-Canada is back with some ideas for us on Earth Day! Thanks again Stacey! And if you are looking for Earth Day events, check out yesterday's blog post for some suggestions.

Ever wish your feet were smaller? It’s a fairly common complaint I hear from my girlfriends – my feet are too big, I wish I had small feet like you (they are size 6 ½). My response is usually a smug smile and a shrug of my shoulders. I hate to boast but I do like my smaller shoe size – it has been quite beneficial at shoes sales, and boy do I love a good shoe sale!

You are probably thinking it fairly odd for someone who spends her days thinking about ways to communicate the need to protect our planet to start off this blog talking about foot size and great shoe sales. Well, it’s because today is Earth Day, and it got me thinking about the concept of lowering our carbon footprint and how to put it into terms people would understand. It also made me wonder if my footprint is as small as it could be, or could I do something to make it smaller? Which brought me to shoes – one of the things I know I can spend hours talking about!

Forty years ago, Earth Day was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. Today international celebrations and activities are held on this day, demonstrating the world’s commitment to its ongoing protection. Despite the public support for Earth Day the environment is still in crisis.

Four years ago, WWF Australia invited the city of Sydney to spend an hour in the dark on March 27th as a call for action specifically on climate change – the first Earth Hour. For the past three years, over a billion people have participated internationally in this lights out event. This year, 51 percent of Canadians showed that they were ready to be part of the climate solution by turning out their lights during Earth Hour.

Why start paying attention to all the talk of climate change and its damaging affects now if we have been unsuccessful in making changes in 40 years? Why bother participating in activities on days like Earth Day and Earth Hour? Why try to reduce our own carbon footprints? Well – it’s pretty simple actually. There is scientific proof that climate change could result in the extinction of more than a million species living on land within the next 50 years, and in our oceans, the damage being caused by unusually warm ocean temperatures is affecting essential habitat for marine life, and no fish means no livelihood for millions of people around the world. If we don’t start making changes in our own lives now – our children will be directly affected.

Reducing our carbon footprint can be done by making simple lifestyle changes at home and at work. Considering what is at stake, it is not only our global responsibility, it's in all our best interests.

So here are a few simple things you can do:

  • Switch to green electricity provided by companies like Bullfrog Power (offering power in BC, AB, ON, NS, NB and PEI).
  • Visit the farmers market to buy local produce and meat. A new daily market will be opening on the Halifax Waterfront this summer as well, providing more opportunities to buy fresh, local food.
  • Switch to compact florescent lights. They last longer than regular light bulbs so it means less trips up and down the ladder to change them.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water. I was a reluctant convert on this one but your whites still get as white and your clothes really are just as clean!
  • Take a walk, or dig out your bike instead of using your car for that short trip to the store or for your next play date. It’s great way to work off that extra baby weight and you can even get child seats that attach to your bike. Or if you are back at work, take the bus instead of driving. You’ll save monthly parking fees (and parking meters may be going up by $.50 downtown).

There are numerous other simple actions that you can take, and WWF-Canada has a great program called the Living Planet Community where Canadians can connect and get other footprint-reducing ideas and share their actions with others. It’s amazing to see how our actions add up when we work together.

So whether it’s Earth Hour on March 27th or Earth Day on April 22nd is irrelevant. Those are just particular dates chosen to raise awareness for the problem – to see the bigger picture – a starting point to begin lowering your own carbon footprint. Then the next time you are thinking about the size your footprint makes in the sand, you can take comfort in the knowing that even though you may not be able to take advantage of that great demo sale of designer shoes in tiny sizes, you have scored by having the smallest carbon footprint. Just think – the cost savings in your gas and power bills alone will enable you to buy those great shoes in YOUR size!

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