As I contemplate both Earth Day and Arbor Day this week, I begin to wonder why we have these two holidays in the same week in April. A little online research reveals that Arbor Day is the older holiday, and the most pure and simple– the name says it all. Arbor Day was established to celebrate trees and promote the planting of trees. The very first Arbor Day was held in Spain in 1805; it was a local effort by a priest who believed trees were important for “health, hygiene, decoration, nature, environment and customs.” The first American Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska in 1872 and soon spread throughout the United States and many other countries. I remember planting trees at school on Arbor Day as a child.
Earth Day is a more modern creation. Peace activist John McConnell first proposed the day in 1969 at a UNESCO conference to honor the earth and it was first celebrated in 1970 in the United States. Today, Earth Day is celebrated globally and encompasses a vast assortment of programs ranging from climate change to women and wages, and even includes efforts to protect the Asian elephant.
Sometimes the problems of our planet Earth seem insurmountable. Whether it’s greenhouse gas emissions contributing to global warming (what are greenhouse gases anyway?), trash in the oceans, or plastic bags filling landfills and littering roadsides, I often find myself wondering what one person or family can do that could make a dent in all these monumental problems. Then I remember the multiplying power of numbers.
It takes 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef! If you give up cooking hamburger one day per week, that would equal taking your car off the road for 320 miles in a year. But if everyone in the United States were to give up beef one day a week, that would be like not driving 91 billion miles! That means taking 7.6 million cars off the road! These numbers are astounding and remind me that while my small actions may seem inconsequential, if everyone makes an effort to do the small things within our capability, these small things add up. And since I can’t control everyone, I will focus on what I can do.
Last month, I visited a friend in Oakland, California for a few days. When I finished a banana and asked her if she puts the peels down her garbage disposal (which I don’t because they can clog it up), she told me that Oakland’s recycling program includes composting. This means that the recycling trucks collect all the typical backyard composting candidates such as banana peels, vegetable scraps, and lawn trimmings. She is also able to contribute for composting items including paper, meat, bones and dairy products which you wouldn’t compost in your backyard for fear of attracting animals and these materials can take a long time to decompose. This reduces the amount of actual garbage going into the landfill from her household to one small bag per week. I don’t even want to tell you how many bags of garbage we produce in a week; we were thrilled when we got a garbage disposal and were able to grind up all that organic matter and wash it down the drain. Visiting Oakland made me realize that while our little town doesn’t have a composting program which accepts meat and paper, we could at least start our own private composting pile with lawn clippings and vegetable scraps.
There are so many small things we can do to support the environment: we can plant a tree, send reusable containers in school lunch boxes rather than plastic bags, use reusable bags at the grocery store, stop watering and mowing a section of our lawn, and even start to compost at home. What we can’t control, or even anticipate, is how our actions will potentially influence those around us and how quickly they will multiply as others also make their own small contributions. And I really like the effect taking this approach has on our children who are learning that it’s not enough to wait for the grand gesture. Instead, we need to live our lives thoughtfully and in an environmentally-friendly way every, single day.
We can also care for planet Earth by choosing to support companies which make an effort to reduce their influence on the environment. Lucky & Me has a commitment to environmental sustainability and these values influence every decision the company makes about products and packaging. You can see this in the use of mailing bags made from recycled polyethylene, products made in environmentally-friendly factories, the use of organic cotton in many products, and soon they will be offering an adorable reusable muslin bag shown here.
If your kids are like mine, they love to fill pouches with all the small collectibles they gather over the course of a day. Of course, you can also use this bag yourself, in your lingerie drawer or to hold jewelry. I love that Lucky & Me has come up with such a well-designed, cute and reusable item to replace at least some of the plastic bags in my life! After all, every little bit helps!
Featured image photo credit: aupairbuzz.culturecare.com
Liz Smith has worked across the globe for many of the world’s major apparel brands, including Victoria’s Secret, Chico’s, Justice, and Hanes. She has earned thousands of airline points and worn out several suitcases visiting factories in more than 20 countries to ensure that production is of the highest standard. Liz has managed all aspects of garment production, from design through fabric development to sewing and merchandising– so she knows what it takes to make high-quality apparel. Liz is thrilled to share her knowledge about clothes to help discerning customers choose the finest products.