The name itself suggests an enormous event. Earth is the only planet we inhabit right now and we need to save it in order to protect our future. Collectively, we’ve depleted an enormous amount of natural resources like crude oil, potable water, fresh air and natural landscapes, especially over the last 200 years.
The public momentum surrounding sustainability has expanded and contracted through time, but the United Nations continues to recognize it as an important event every year. Inception of the concept is believed to have started in 1969 during a UNSECO conference. Coordinated by the Earth Day Network, Earth Day is currently celebrated in more than 175 countries every year.
Rooted in activism from the 1960’s the movement was propelled by the visible deterioration of the environment. By the end of 1970 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was born and efforts to improve air and water quality were gaining political traction.
We’ve come a long way since the 1960s but not far enough. Returning to methods used since the Egyptians harnessed solar power and architects from the 1800’s were using rain water catch basins for steam heat and manipulating wind into air conditioning is important.
Historic buildings have elements of sustainability that have slipped out of public awareness. The Dakota in Manhattan (1892) is an apartment building built to use rain water harvesting for steam heat. The National Building Museum in Washington, DC (1887) was one of the first sustainable office buildings in the country. Missing bricks below the windows allowed fresh air to circulate through the entire building every two minutes. After one year in the new building, lost time due to employee sickness was reduced by 8,622 days. In 1931, architects of City Hall in Buffalo, NY placed the building in close proximity to Lake Erie in order to use strong prevailing easterly winds from the lake to create non-powered air conditioning.
Sustainability means moving toward zero-net living. There are simple things we can do in order to reduce individual carbon footprints.
A noticeable factor in Montclair is the number of vehicles traveling through commercial corridors. The complex relationship surrounding parking issues can change if we increase our social responsibility by reducing our dependence on vehicle. Next time you want to go to dinner on Bloomfield Avenue or in Upper Montclair, ride your bike or walk. Driving anywhere less than 15 blocks is challenging in a community that promotes “where the suburb meets the city.”
Other ideas are to:
- Spend at least one day drinking tap water and be thankful you won’t end up with dysentery like I did from the tap water in Indonesia.
- Ride your bike or walk everywhere in town for at least one day
- Turn off lights in unused rooms and turn off outside lights in the morning
- Remove chargers from walls to stop vampire power leakage
- Plant something you can use like potted herbs which can be used for Herbs de Provence.
- Recipes can vary but the basics are usually oregano, thyme, savory, lavender, basil and rosemary
- Recycle something other than water bottles. If you have any old tool lying around, spray then with a coat of clear matt paint with low VOC’s and use them as a wall decoration. Benjamin Moore Green Promise Paints are eco-friendly. Using tools as décor is a diluted version of Steampunk style which is popular in creative urban areas and unique restaurants like Smith & Mills in TriBeCa.
Celebrate Earth Day this Sunday thinking about how you can reduce your carbon footprint – and then act on your ideas!