Earth Day has been celebrated in the United States since 1970, and it is still a call to action, encouraging people to consider the effects of their behavior on the environment and shedding light on the need to reduce our use of resources.
We can’t escape our environmental challenges: climate change, destruction of rain forests, and loss of species, to name just a few. We can, however, make a difference and do something to protect our shared home, Earth.
This year Earth Day is April 22, and the 2021 theme is “Restore Our Earth.” Here are some ideas from local experts on how you can make a difference this Earth Day.
Lisa LaRocque, City of Las Cruces Sustainability Officer
“For Earth Day 2021, I encourage people to learn more about how the environment functions and how our actions impact our planet,” said Lisa LaRocque, sustainability officer at the City of Las Cruces. “There are simple changes people can make that affect their footprint on the environment.” Lisa said. “There are so many ways to go green, from walking and biking instead of driving, looking at ways to use less energy in buildings, planting a garden, buying local, protecting wildlife, and more,” she added.
A powerful weapon to help combat climate change and provide clean air to breath is planting a tree native to our area, which, after it is established, will use less water than a tree native to another location. “In Las Cruces, trees only shade four percent of the community. Trees give off oxygen, mitigating climate change, lowering heating and cooling expenses, reducing the amount of stormwater runoff, and providing habitat and food for wildlife. Even in a desert, planting a tree is a great idea,” said Lisa. She says that if every household would plant two trees, we could double the amount of shade in the community, which shows how individual actions really add up.
State Senator Carrie Hamblen, Green Chamber of Commerce
State Senator Carrie Hamblen, who is also CEO/president of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, said, “Every day should be Earth Day. We recognize April as an opportunity to focus on and highlight what is most important at the time. Climate change will get worse if we do not take it seriously,” said Hamblen.
She continued, “First, reduce consumption. For example, instead of buying cases of bottled water, use a water dispenser or reusable bottles. Then, buy local. The fewer miles our fruits and vegetables travel, the less energy gets used for refrigeration and transportation. This can help reduce our carbon footprints.”
“It is important to help take care of the Earth. Communities, individuals, and businesses could reduce energy consumption using LED lights. Turn off lights or other appliances you are not using. And consider switching to solar power,” said Hamblen. She adds, “Our local businesses have used very creative ways to reduce their impact on the planet while saving money. We all can do our part to protect the planet.”
Allison Jenks, New Mexico State University Facilities Sustainability Manager
Another problem is too much trash. When we stop and think about it, we may be surprised at how much trash we generate. The real tragedy is that much of what we throw away can be reused or recycled. Besides, litter looks bad, blocks drains, and can be dangerous to people and animals.
According to Allison Jenks, facilities sustainability manager at New Mexico State University (NMSU), “Reducing the number of disposable items you consume is the best thing you can do to prevent so much waste. Currently what is accepted to be recycled at NMSU are #1 plastics (water bottles, soda bottles), aluminum cans, paper, and cardboard. We also have a program to recycle printer cartridges. Additionally, we have rePETE, which is where furniture and other usable items go when one department is no longer using it and it can be repurposed and diverted from the landfill.”
By becoming aware of even one environmental problem in our home, our school, or our community and then doing something about it — reduce, reuse, recycle — we start a habit and contribute to improving the environment.
Our planet is the only home we have. Making simple changes to the things we do every day by going green can help the environment and protect the Earth now and for the future. The power to protect our Earth rests with each of us.
Written by Laiza Zaldivar for LasCruces.com
Posted by LasCruces.com