Mark Your Calendars: April 20th – Earth Day in Ridgewood

Dear Eco-Ed:

Ridgewood is having its Earth Day celebration in Van Neste Square on Saturday, April 20th this year.  I want to get involved, and learn about how I can do more to teach my children about the environment and global warming.  Any advice?

– Enjoying Spring in Ridgewood

Dear Enjoying Spring:

You have already pinpointed the first thing you can do to take a step in that direction.  Ridgewood’s Earth Day event will be a fun and informative event in the park.

You will be able to see electric cars, and hear about how they can lessen your carbon footprint.  You can learn about home energy efficiency, and reducing energy used while saving money in your home.  You will find information about trees, gardening, recycling, clean water, healthy foods, and the list goes on and on.

Do One Thing

One of the continuing themes this year, is the Do One Thing mantra.  We are encouraging everyone to make a pledge to Do One Thing, which is “Earth-Friendly,” and together, we can all have a tremendous impact.  What can you do to be more Earth-Friendly?  Remember that no step is too small, so choose something that you enjoy, will make you healthier, reduces energy or pollution, or otherwise has positive impacts on the environment.

Earth Day Actions

  1. Drive less to reduce the amount of gas you use, and pollution you make.  Walking into town instead of driving, or riding a bicycle has the added benefit of getting you in better shape physically.  You may be surprised at how your energy levels increase when become more physically active.
  2. Choosing to eat less meat as raising beef has an extremely high carbon footprint.   Even enjoying a vegetarian meal once in a while is a step in the right direction, and you may enjoy the new epicurean experience!
  3. Save energy at home.  I always recommend starting with an energy audit, so you can understand where you are using and wasting energy.  Once this is accomplished, you can then prioritize the steps to take to reduce that energy use.  The simplest steps which everyone can do, are to turn off lights when not in the room, and replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED ones.  Look for Energy Star appliances.  The home energy audit is the first step towards getting rebates and incentives from New Jersey of up to $5000 per home, and interest-free loans to help make it easy for homeowners to reduce their energy use!
  4. Shop locally.  This supports local businesses, and reduces the amount of travel to stores.  We also have a wonderful Farmer’s Market right here in Ridgewood, which has excellent locally-grown produce.
  5. Plant a tree.  You can do this in your yard, or in a park on town property (with proper permission).  This simple step has many benefits, including leaving a legacy that could still be growing in 100 years!

The additional benefit of most of these activities is that they also save you money, and give you the satisfaction of making the planet a better place for future generations.  Be sure to enjoy your pledge.  What I have found is that your first step will be fulfilling, and you never know where it leads.  The journey is always the fun part!

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