April 22nd is Earth Day, and across the country, communities are joining forces to clean up and increase awareness of little things that can be done to help the environment. In recovery, we learn that everything is connected and that when we reach and help others, we are also helping ourselves to stay sober.
Helping The Environment While Helping Yourself
This month and every month, you have the opportunity to rejuvenate your recovery by giving back to the earth and making your little spot on the planet a better place to be. Here are just a few ways to get started:
- Plant a tree. Planting a tree helps to decrease the impact of CO2 emissions, filter the air, and reduce noise pollution. Trees can also increase property values and help to keep a house cool, lowering energy costs. If you are a renter, talk to your landlord about planting a tree on the property or find out how you can contribute to the planting of a tree elsewhere in your community or around the world.
- Plant flowers. If you would like to plant something inside or live in close quarters with other buildings where trees won’t be appropriate, you can plant flowers instead. Flowers improve mental health by bringing a little light and life to otherwise dark spaces. If outside, they can attract bees, which are necessary for cross pollination. Certain flowers are more likely to attract bees than others, so learn more about creating a bee flower garden before you get started.
- Stop the energy leaks. Especially if you are living in an older home or building, you may have a lot of little leaks that are making your heating and cooling system work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home. The nice thing about this environmental fix is that it helps you out as well, saving you a great deal of money, especially if you live in a climate that is exceptionally hot or cold. You can use a door gap stopper to block air underneath doors and caulk up old windows. Check attics and basements for uninsulated spaces that may be leaking energy.
- Unplug. Stop electricity waste by unplugging appliances when not in use, turning off lights and fans when you leave a room, and keeping the temperature high in summer and low in winter in order to stop energy waste and save on your bill.
- Dry your clothes naturally. Another way to save on energy and take advantage of the natural – and free – resources available to you is to dry your clothes on the line rather than putting them in the dryer. If you do not have a lot of space, you can put up a line in the bathroom, and/or save even more electricity and water when you hand wash a few items at a time.
- Walk or bike where you need to go. Walking and biking to all the places that are close enough to do so comfortably, and using public transportation or carpooling everywhere else, will help you to conserve gas and reduce CO2 emissions while also saving some money and burning some calories as well.
- Carry your own cup/water bottle. Cut down on your use of disposable water bottles or wax lined paper water cups, and opt for a reusable cup or bottle instead. Disposable coffee cups are lined so they don’t leak, so they cannot be recycled with paper. You can manage this issue by carrying a reusable water bottle and a travel mug for coffee – either or both, whichever suits your purposes.
- Reuse your bags. When you head to the grocery store, you may usually walk out with a bunch of plastic or paper bags. Both are recyclable, but too often, they get thrown away or discarded rather than brought back to the store. If you can, avoid using them entirely by bringing your own reusable bags. If you are on foot or taking public transportation, using a backpack will make it easier to get your groceries home.
- Get it secondhand. Whether you are buying clothes, appliances, books, or anything you need for your home, consider the option of buying it secondhand. Too many things that are perfectly usable end up in the landfill. Get creative if you like – repaint that used dresser, turn a couple of old shirts into a new skirt, and repurpose sheets and tablecloths into whatever you need. Bonus: more money savings!
- Volunteer. If there is an environmental organization you respect and that is doing work you feel passionate about, donate your time and energy. Take on a project or sign up for what they are already doing – there is an almost endless number of options. There are organization that support sustaining wildlife, fighting global warming, improving water quality and marine safety, addressing the problem of pesticides and GMO crops, and more.
How will you incorporate environmental repair into your recovery plan? What issues matter most to you?