Effect Change with Your Everyday Actions

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The environmental movement has its origins in the Industrial Revolution as a response to the rising levels of smoke pollution in the atmosphere. The combination of industrial pollution and human waste made for horrendous living conditions. We have come a long way since the Industrial Revolution, but we still have a way to go. It is important that we all do our part to better the environment if we wish to continue to live on a flourishing planet capable of supporting our species. The contributions we are able to make on an individual level sometimes seem too small to matter. Our efforts are not insignificant. That small ripple of contribution turns into a wave and that wave into a tsunami when all our efforts are combined.
 
History of the Environmental Movement in the United States
 
Native Americans were the first environmentalists by default. They viewed themselves as one with nature. Their survival depended on using resources instead abusing them. Their nomadic existences allowed them to flow with nature. When colonists entered the scene, they had a different view. Manifest Destiny preached that man was the controller of the land instead of part of it. The myth of superabundance leads to an overuse of resources. It seemed that the earth was ripe with resources that would never run thin. Taking without giving back comes with its consequences.
 
Early activists and philosophers like Henry David Thoreau, George Perkins Marsh and John Wesley Powell shed light on the power of Mother Earth and our need to be aware of our actions. We started to open our eyes to the beauty of our planet and the benefits of conservation. The conservation years brought crucial legislation allowing presidents to set aside lands for national parks and national forests. The park service was born and citizen conservation groups formed.
 
The environmental era came along with the end of World War II. Rachel Carson’s and Paul Ehrlich’s writing spurred an awakening of environmental philosophy. The Grassroots Movement exploded and the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. The Environmental Protection agency began operation on December 2, 1970. Around this time, environmental legislation was taking root. The Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act were both passed in 1972.
 
Clean Air
 
Air pollution is the mixture of solid particles and gasses in the air. Smog is an obvious result of air pollution, but not all pollution is visible. Carbon dioxide is the main contributor to global warming. This pollutant is usually associated with cars, planes, power plants and any burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is a natural part of the environment and living things actually emit carbon dioxide when they breathe. The problem comes from the amount of this gas that is being pumped into the atmosphere. There are ways we can reduce, on a personal level, our “carbon footprint,” the amount of carbon dioxide a person is responsible for emitting into the atmosphere.
 

       Public transportation– Using your vehicle less is a great way to reduce emissions. Rideshare and carpooling are a great way to cut down on individual vehicle use. Take the bus, subway or another form of public transportation when available.

 

       Car smarts – If you are driving your car on a regular basis, conserve gas by going the speed limit. Removing extra weight from your car can also increase your gas mileage. Remove heavy loads as soon as possible. Regular car maintenance helps to keep your car running smooth and emissions down.

 

       Power down – Consuming excessive amounts of power contributes to the carbon load in the atmosphere. Make sure to turn off lights when they are not in use. Open the windows to regulate indoor temperatures when the seasons allow. Use fans to circulate air instead of always relying on your air conditioning unit.

 

       Reduce, reuse, recycle – We have heard this said since we were young: reduce, reuse, recycle. It still pertains today. Consider changing to reusable grocery bags. Keep a recycling bin in the kitchen. Reuse items instead of throwing them out.

 
Clean Water
 
Places like California are constantly struggling for water. Droughts occur on a regular basis. Whether you believe in the cadiz water project or not, there are ways you can help conserve water. It is important to do your part even if you live in an area that does not suffer from water shortages. Be cognizant of your water consumption. Obvious ways to reduce water consumption are turning off the water when brushing your teeth, taking shorter showers and using less water while handwashing dishes. It is also important to only water your lawn when it needs it. You can also go a step further by planting drought-resistant grass, shrubs and plants.
 
It is important to do our individual parts to conserve resources and help the environment. Small changes in our everyday lives can make a big difference overall. Our efforts on an individual basis may seem inconsequential, but when we look at individual efforts combined, the effect is astronomical. 


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