Christina Quint, MA, is the sustainability analyst for Inova’s Office of Sustainability. In this role, she provides programmatic support, manages sustainability communication and marketing, and oversees environmental data collection and analysis to ensure optimal operational performance across the Inova system.
The first Earth Day was held in 1970, and it is widely considered to be the start of the modern environmental movement. Earth Day is a globally celebrated event, and it is intended as a day to pause and appreciate our Earth. However, the most meaningful way we can celebrate is by continuing to find ways to be more environmentally-friendly every day of the year. Below, the Office of Sustainability shares our top ten ways to get in the spirit and show appreciation for our environment.
- Eat seasonal, locally-sourced foods
When we eat in-season produce that is locally available, it minimizes the environmental impacts of “food mileage”—the associated pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from eating produce that was shipped from across the country (or further). Celebrate Earth Day by checking out some of our favorite spring recipes. Your taste buds—and the planet—will thank you!
- Go meatless for the day
Not only is going meatless one day a week helpful in reducing your risk of chronic preventable diseases, it also helps you to reduce your global footprint. The meat industry uses up a vast amount of our precious resources like fossil fuels and water. Our spring recipes from tip number one are easily customizable for meatless meals.
- Unplug appliances when not in use
Unplugging your electrics is an easy way to save energy. Did you know that many appliances still use a small amount of electricity when they’re switched off and plugged into an outlet? Idle power adds up quickly: According to the US Department of Energy, 75% of the electricity used to power home appliances is consumed when they are turned off. Small changes, like unplugging your phone charger once your battery is charged, make a big impact.
- Check your home for energy inefficiencies
Approximately 30 percent of the energy used in most buildings today is either unnecessary or used inefficiently. Thermal imaging cameras reveal hot and cold spots in a home, which indicate air leaks or missing insulation. This Earth Day, Fairfax County is launching a Thermal Camera Loan Program to help residents and business save money on heating and cooling costs. More information can be found on the Energy Action Fairfax website. Local to the Arlington area? Check out Arlington County’s thermal camera lending program here.
- Walk (or bike) to work
Passenger vehicles are a major pollution contributor. Transportation contributes over 50% of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides emitted into our air. Alternative transportation a great way to get some exercise, enjoy the beautiful spring weather, and be kind to the environment. If it’s not possible to walk to work, try saving a drive to the gym by doing your workout at home.
- Donate time to beautifying your community
There are countless ways to clean up and beautify the Capital Regions throughout the entire month of April. Arlington County is holding free events and services all month long, and Montgomery County is hosting a series of neighborhood cleanups throughout the month of April. Celebrate the day-of by participating in the Anacostia Watershed clean-up on April 22nd. Check out a complete list of local Earth Day community cleanup events.
- Update your lightbulbs to LED lights.
Replacing all the bulbs in your house won’t take long, and it’ll save you money on your energy bill since fluorescents are a lot more efficient than standard lightbulbs. Easy Web Calculators will help you figure out how much you can save.
- Go Solar and/or reduce your energy footprint
Gain energy independence, reduce your carbon footprint and eventually save money on your utility bill by going solar or reducing your energy use. A number of local municipalities are now offering collective purchasing opportunities that provide homeowners and businesses discounted prices on solar systems. Fairfax County is the latest to provide this opportunity. You can also learn more about how to make your home more energy efficient by visiting Energy Action Fairfax.
- Conserve that water
Since water so abundant in our region, it’s hard to understand the importance for reducing one’s water use. However, that same mindset applied in California and other parts of the country that have recently experienced their worst multi-year drought in decades. The best thing to do is be prepared with water conserving devices, and be mindful of our water use. Never water your lawn in the middle of the day as most of the water evaporates. It is also best to use car wash facilities that reclaim their water as opposed to washing your car in the street. Make sure your dishwashers and clothes washing machines are full when used and be sure to turn off that water while you are brushing your teeth.
- Make Earth Day more than just a holiday
Earth Day may come once every year, but in order to have an impact, the Earth Day spirit has to translate into more sustainable lifestyle choices every day. These tips are not only meant for April 22nd, or even the month of April. This Earth Day, pledge to make one sustainable change that you can continue all year round.
What are you pledging to do this Earth Day? Let us know in the comments below!