Keeping the Flame Lit

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Monday, April 22nd marked the 49th anniversary of Earth Day. What started as a small demonstration for environmental reform in the United States, has blossomed into a globally observed celebration, with tree plantings, park clean-ups and people all over enjoying the outdoors. 

Why limit the sustainable choices to just one day? How can we ignite a flame for greener lifestyle that will continue to glow all year? The answer is to Keep It Simple. 

Below are five easy suggestions, other than recycling, that you can take on in order to keep the Earth Day “flame” burning all year round: 

1. Go Outside: Whether you are having your morning coffee, checking emails or doing class work with the kids, take it outdoors. The fresh air, sunshine and sounds of nature will enhance any mundane activity and give you a deeper connection to our planet. 

2. Pick Up a Piece of Trash: We all see it, it’s everywhere nowadays; a bottle here, a takeout bag there. How hard is it to stop, bend over and pick it up? Honestly, it may just take a second of your time, but the continuous effort will make a lasting impact. The plastic bag you pick up today, may save a sea turtle’s life tomorrow. Plus, you might inspire someone else to do it too. 

3. Use a Reusable Water Bottle: Count with me, 1…2…3… in those three seconds alone, over 4,500 plastic water bottles were just thrown out, and will go to a landfill. Where they will remain for a 1000 years before they biodegrade. By using a glass or plastic reusable container for one year, you can reduce the number of plastic bottles discarded by 150. 

4.  Skip the bag: How many of us have gone to the store to get one or two items? Maybe you’re stopping by the convenience store to get pack of gum – or, if you’re like me, a piece of candy. Do you really need a bag for a Twix bar, or a gallon of milk? Over a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year. Think about this the next time you are going to the store. If you can’t skip the bag, choose paper or, better still, a reusable one. 

5. Shop Locally: If you had to choose between a tomato grown in Chile that was packaged and shipped thousands of miles to your grocer’s vegetable bin, or a tomato freshly picked from the local farmer’s field up the road, choose the latter. Supporting local businesses improves the local economy and reduces the amount of fossil fuels needed to ship goods worldwide. Check your area for farmers markets or craft bazaars. You can’t go wrong with fresh food. Plus, any unique, handmade gift is more meaningful than any gift card ever will be. 

There you have it. Five incredibly easy ways to live more sustainability and make everyday Earth Day! 

Sarah Pope received her undergraduate degree from Old Dominion University in 2010 with a major in Ocean Earth and Atmospheric Science. In 2014, Sarah completed her graduate coursework in secondary science education from the College of William & Mary; where she participated in Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achieving (VISTA). She has since expanded her teaching license to include all middle school sciences, in addition to the earth sciences (oceanography, meteorology, astronomy, geology). In 2014, she trained under College Board and the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) for advanced placement environmental science. Sarah is a member of the Mid Atlantic Marine Education Association (MAMEA). She has presented numerous times at the annual Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST) conferences. When she’s not teaching, Sarah loves to travel, read, practice yoga and spend quality time with her loving husband, three sons and beloved dog.

Sarah will be teaching the following courses for Open Tent Academy in 2019-2020:

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