Way back in 1969, a totally groovy senator from Wisconsin, by the name of  Gaylord Nelson, proposed that there be a day when all Americans take extra steps to learn about, celebrate and demonstrate ways in which they could be kinder to the Earth.  Nelson suggested that communities organize different events that allowed and encouraged members to unite in this goal and, thus, Earth Day was born. In celebration of this day, and this big, blue rock that we all call home, let us take a few moments and consider some of the simple, and some of the more involved, ways that we can take better care, and make the world a better place for generations to come.  Happy Earth Day!  

Unplug

Many electronics draw power, even when they are not actively in use, or even turned off.  This act has gained the ghoulish moniker of “phantom power,” and it is estimated that nearly 10% of your monthly energy bill falls into this creepy category.  The solution, however, is an easy one, although it may take a few extra minutes of your day.  Whenever you are not actively using your electronic devices, just pull the plug.  This may take a bit more time, but you’ll likely see a positive impact on your energy bill (and your wallet when you go to make the payment), and you can feel good about reducing your energy use and reducing your carbon footprint.  Kudos to you.  

Perfecting the Potty

The worst culprit in your home, when it comes to wasting water, is none other than the most popular seat in your house.  Whether you call it the throne, the potty or just the toilet, this malefactor is where gallons and gallons of water are literally flushed away.  Each flush of the porcelain privy can use around seven gallons of water.  For a visual reference, that is around 14 two-liter soda bottles.  But fear not, my conservation-conscious friend, there is a solution.  According to the EPA, by replacing older toilets with newer, more efficient low-flow models, the average American home reduces the water used in toilets by 20% - 40%.  That is nearly 13,000 gallons of water saved, each year in just one home!  

Want an even more staggering statistic?  If all the old, inadequate toilets in this country were replaced by newer, more efficient models, we would save 360 billion gallons of water (yes, that billion with a “B”) each year.  That is the amount of water that passes over Niagara Falls over the course of nine days.  

Let the Sunshine In

We are willing to bet (with almost certainty) that you are using electricity within your home.  And, if you are like many homeowners across the country, you’re using  A LOT of it.  From lighting our lamps, powering our refrigerators and washing machines, to charging our phones, we have become nearly as dependent on this energy as we are on oxygen (a bit of an exaggeration, but not much).  All of that energy has to come from somewhere, and a good deal of it comes from sources that are less than great for the sustainability and livability of the planet.  With this in mind, many environmentally aware homeowners are looking upward for answers to our energy concerns.  According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, utilizing solar power, rather than conventional forms of energy, reduces the amount of carbon and other pollutants that are released into the environment. Reducing the amount of carbon in our atmosphere means less overall pollution in the environment, resulting in cleaner air and water - something that we can all get on board with.  Because residential solar paneling has grown so much in popularity in the last two decades, more and more companies are emerging to meet the need, this has helped to decrease price of the panels themselves, as well as the instillation, allowing for more and more homes across the country to become part of the solar movement.  

As an added bonus (as if you needed one) a recent study found that adding solar to your home will add to its value.  Buyers were willing to pay an additional 15,000 for a home that was already outfitted with solar panels.