Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day everyone!  Well, I’m a few days early, as it’s not until Monday, but I thought I’d talk a little about the history of Earth Day, as well as some things you can do to help protect the environment.

Earth Day was begun in 1970 in response to an oil spill off Santa Barbara, California.  It was created by Senator Gaylord Nelson who wanted a day to teach people about the impact of environmental change and educate about how our choices make an impact on the natural world.  There are Earth Day events all around the world nowadays, with the day commemorated in some way in nearly every small town and big city in America.

Many of the Earth Day events focus on the interrelatedness of humans with other species.  Everyone agrees that what happens to the Earth’s ecosystems impacts our species eventually.  It’s easy to see that overfishing will decrease our access to fish in our food supply, but subtle downstream effects may be more difficult to assess.  We all agree that using less fossil fuels is good in the abstract, but people disagree (often fairly violently) over what should be done about it.

Protecting unique ecosystems and unique species is a worthy goal, but sometimes it’s not clear what an individual can do to protect the environment.  Here’s a few things you CAN do:

1.  Reduce, reuse and recycle the packaging on products you buy.  Buy concentrated products that are later diluted with water.  Buy products that are packaged in pouches rather than bottles (less plastic) and in larger packages rather than smaller (less packaging per unit of product).  Use a tabletop water filter instead of buying bottled water.

Lunchmeats are often sold in reusable plastic containers that are nice for packing lunches.  Use washable dishrags rather than paper towels, and cloth napkins rather than paper ones.  Use real silverware and china instead of paper and plastic.  Use washable water bottles rather than buying bottled water in single-serving containers.

Find out what classes of materials your local recycling center accepts (they all take glass and aluminum/steel cans, but they vary on what class of plastics are accepted).  The type of plastic (signified by a number) is stamped on the package in the triangle-shaped recycle symbol.  Choose products packaged in plastics that you can recycle, if possible.  Here’s an example:

Plastic recycling symbol2. Eat mostly or exclusively plants.  Animal agriculture is one of the biggest identifiable threats to our environment.  The vast majority of corn grown in the United States is grown to feed livestock.  It takes immense amounts of land, water and energy to raise livestock for food.  Let’s not even talk about the cruel and inhumane treatment animals raised for food suffer.  And people who eat mostly or exclusively plants are healthier than those who eat animal based foods in large amounts.  Eating plants is better for people and for the environment.

3. Buy organic foods, and spend your money in ways that support environmentally responsible solutions.  Vote with your dollars.  The more demand there is for food that is raised in a way that is gentle with our planet, the more available and less expensive it will become.  This goes for renewable energy like solar and wind power.  Unlike some, I don’t believe that fossil fuels or animal agriculture should be outlawed.  This will damage our economy and hurt those who depend on them for their livelihood.  A gradual shift away as education and innovation increases demand for other alternatives is better.

Most of you know that I’ve been working with the Shaklee Corporation for the last 10 years.  I wanted to say a few things as well about Shaklee’s efforts to help the environment.  Right from the first day, Dr. Forrest Shaklee’s motto was “Living In Harmony With Nature.”  He believed that his company’s goal should be to develop products that improve the health of both people and the planet.

In the 1960s Shaklee produced one of the very first biodegradable vegetable-based nontoxic cleaning solutions, Basic H.  It is still available today, and a 16-oz bottle costing $12.15 retail makes 48 gallons of regular-strength cleaning solution.  It will clean windows and mirrors, fruits and vegetables, cars and boats and degrease your car’s engine.  I’ve used it nearly every way you can use it, and it works great.  The whole line of Get Clean products is nontoxic and safe for you, your family and your pets.

Shaklee provides support and nontoxic cleaning (and other) products to environmental research projects such as the Cousteau Society and the Whale Conservation Institute.  The company has organized and supported the planting of over 1 million trees.  Shaklee was the first company in the world to be certified Climate Neutral in 2000, offsetting carbon emissions by using renewable energy (solar, wind, etc) and planting trees.  The company has received numerous honors and awards for its leadership in environmental activism.

I’m very proud to partner with Shaklee to improve both the lives of my patients and the health of the planet.  Shaklee is offering free shipping on orders containing a Get Clean Starter Kit from now through April 26th, and will partner with American Forests to plant one tree for every starter kit purchased!  Here is a video that talks about the Get Clean Starter Kit.

Earth Day may be April 22, but we should be conscious of our impact on our planet every day, all year long.  One person alone can’t do much, but if we all pitch in and do a little every day (like reducing, reusing, recycling, eating more plants, eating organic and choosing environmentally-friendly products) we can make a big change together!

QUESTION:  What do you do to protect our planet?

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