10 Easy Ways to Help Your Local Environment

10 Easy Ways to Help Your Local Environment

Eco Stuff - rain barrellBy Terrah Baker

Build a bat house — Bats have been on the decline throughout the country thanks to a somewhat mysterious disease called White Nose Syndrome, where a fungus grows on bats noses as they hibernate, waking them up when there is no food, causing many to die of starvation or sickness. Bats are critical to controlling are bug population, so mainting their numbers is extremely important to our ecosystem and human comfort. One practical thing humans can do to help the bat population is give them safe places to live and reproduce. Building a bat house is easy — think bird house with the bottom cut off and soft chicken wire along the inside edges for the bats to hang on. For more instructions, like where to hang the bat house for best use, visit http://bit.ly/Qo8n7I.

Catch rain water — In places in Africa where annual rainfall reaches only 11 inches per year, innovative individuals are creating luscious gardens from the rainwater they catch and direct using natural irrigation methods. In Arkansas, we get about 42 inches per year, so there’s no excuse for us not to be catching and utilizing rainwater in place of water from the city that uses tons of energy to clean and send back out. Hobbs State Park is holding a rain barrel making workshop on May 10 where participants can pay just $25, learn how to make their own rain barrel, and walk away with one ready to go! Visit Friends of Hobb Park website for more info. on the workshop (http://bit.ly/1eGr6H8).

Create a rain garden — The largest pollutant of the Beaver Lake watershed is storm water runoff. In this runoff from our concrete world and open storm drains is oils, concrete and other sediment from construction sites, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, livestock manure and much more. One of the most effective ways water conservationists like those at the Beaver Water District have found to mitigate these pollutants are to grow your own rain garden, which acts as a natural filtration system for storm water runoff coming off of your roof. They have laid out specific plans and instructions, even types of plants to use in Arkansas, for the perfect rain garden that fits any budget. Visit the Beaver Water District’s Rain Garden Project website to learn more http://bit.ly/1inmCUW.

Plant plants that promote health of pollinators — It’s easy in Arkansas to grow plants that help the pollinators like bees and butterflies often forgotten in traditional, manicured lawns, and that are even harmed by modern-day industrial farming. Since these animals are critical to our health and the health of our environment, growing plants that attract and feed them is beneficial for everyone. Visit the Pollinator Partnership for a list of plants for pollinators (www.pollinator.org/guides.htm).

Properly dispose of toxic materials (plastic included) — NEVER put toxic chemicals down storm drains, as it is a DIRECT source to our waterways, which house our drinking water and animals that make our local ecosystem healthy. Other items like plastic and electronics can leak harmful chemicals slowly over time that kill wildlife and poison our world. Medications of any kind that are put down the drain or toilet get into our water system and are hard to completely filter out. Learn about the Toxic Waste drop off sites and dates in your county, and recycle your electronics and plastic bags at places like Best Buy, Wal-mart, Ozark Natural Foods, and take your unused medications to your local police department or county health department for proper disposal.

Conserve water — Water is precious, and may one day be scarce as our population booms and our ground water (aquifers) continue to be used up much faster then it is being replaced. Conserving water can help save energy, money and slow down the process of depleting our ground water.

Conserve energy through quick fixes – Ed Begley wrote a great book called Living Like Ed where he describes energy and environmentally-friendly fixes in the home in categories of accessibility — the easiest being the “Low Hanging Fruit.” The low hanging fruit includes things like insulating the back of your refrigerator, cleaning out your dryer vent every time, replacing lightbulbs, turning off the dry cycle on your dishwasher to save energy, and a whole helpful list of things that can save you money, and save the world some pollution from energy consumption.

Change your food habits – Many people don’t realize it but our food system is one of the biggest environmental concerns. While recycling and proper waste disposal is very important, our food system makes just as big of an impact, some would say more. From toxic chemicals sprayed on fields as fertilizers and pesticides, to manure filled pools at pig factories leaking into waterways, the concerns of our industrial food system are very real and very dangerous. An easy way to make a huge impact on our environment for the better is to eat less meat (not eating meat for a year saves more green house gases then buying an electric car, and you save money), buying organic, and buying local whenever you can.

Don’t waste food (or at least compost) — Many people think food waste decomposes when it reaches the landfill. Well, that’s simply not true. Because of the system of landfills today, the food is compacted along with tons of plastics, and other trash in a system that does not allow air in, therefore allowing for little decomposition. Researchers have shown that trash thrown in landfills over 20 years ago is almost still in its original condition — besides being much dirtier of course. What food does in landfills is sits, slowly releasing methane gas which is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and ultimately global warming. If you can’t save yourself money, and food from the landfill, by eating all of your perishable food items before they go bad, then start a small compost pile somewhere in your backyard. Throw straw, leaves, grass clippings and dirt on it throughout the summer and by the end you’ll have some rich soil and have saved pounds of food from sitting and slowly rotting in landfills. To learn how to compost (although it’s simple and shouldn’t be overcomplicated), visit http://bit.ly/1qZ0roS. To learn some strategies on not wasting perishable food, visit http://1.usa.gov/1jJ2xYQ.

10 Ways Helping the Environment Can Help You

  • Using natural cleaning products and growing plants helps detoxify the air in your home.
  • Saving energy, recycling and conserving where you can can save you tons of money in the long run, that you can then use some of to buy higher quality food for you and your family.
  • Using natural lawn care methods and incorporating edible landscapes and small ecosystems for your yard can create a soothing, exotic scene in your own backyard.
  • Research has shown that being in nature for just a small time each day can significantly help reduce your levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Being in nature and appreciating its gifts helps you be happier, breathe deeper and be all around a better person.
  • Using all natural skin, beauty products, as well as foods and anything else you come in contact with, reduces your risk of cancer.
  • Organic food has been shown to have more vitamins and nutrients, which are important for healthy brain and body function.
  • Naturopathy can be much less expensive than traditional medicine and a good one (DO YOUR RESEARCH) has the same training, with the addition of knowledge of natural remedies.
  • Riding a bike gets you exercise and saves you money.
  • New age homes made of environmentally friendly products like sandbags, cob and recycled materials cost much less to maintain over time, are much more efficient and protect against the elements for many more years than traditional “stick housing.”


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