By David Grist
Plant a Tree
With this simple act, you celebrate the earth by increasing the leafy canopy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people."
Planting a tree can be quite simple. For about 10 bucks, you can buy a bare-root tree from the National Arbor Foundation and get it planted in less than an hour. These 2- to 3-foot whips are easy to manage. By choosing the right variety for your site and keeping it watered, your new tree will adapt quickly and thrive.
If you can't plant a tree, consider donating cash to groups that plant trees all over the world, such as the Canopy Project.
Grow Your Own
Nothing tastes like vegetables that you've grown yourself. Whether you just grow a pot of tomatoes on the patio or you expand your large vegetable garden, you'll be able to say, "I grew this, and it's delicious!"
Get started with our Kitchen Garden Planner, which shows you how to plant, maintain and harvest a productive garden of any size. If you don't have room for a garden, support local farmers by buying their produce whenever you can.
Though it may be a weed to some, this plant is the only food eaten by the kind of caterpillars that become monarch butterflies. As more of this precious plant is eliminated by conventional farming techniques, home gardeners and landowners can make a difference by creating a monarch waystation. To learn what species of milkweed are native to your area, check the list at Monarch Watch.
While you're at it, fill one of your annual planters with flowers that welcome pollinators.The results will be beautiful and beneficial. To learn more, read the article Saving the Monarch Butterfly.
Use Less Water
Find ways to make your garden water-wise. Choose plants that tolerate dry conditions and use watering systems that make the most of every drop. Reduce large, thirsty lawns and opt for more creative landscapes. If drought is a reality in your area, it helps to think like a plant. Learn how by reading Gardening Techniques for Dry Weather.
Take a Walk
Each day, make an effort to get out and walk — even if it's just five minutes. A stroll through nature can revive our work-weary souls with fresh air and (sometimes) sunshine. Take a moment to feel your feet on the earth.
More Ways to Make a Difference
From the Earth Day Network:
- Adjust your water heater. Make sure it is not set too hot for human use.
- Reduce the amount of disposable plastic and paper that you use.
- Unplug unused appliances that consume energy even when they are turned off.
- Don't throw away e-waste, such as computers, TVs and other electronics. Recycle it.
For more ways to make a difference, read A Billion Acts of Green, created by the Earth Day Network.