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Earth Day 2010

Shared by:  Kerry Bowden, Senior Associate
Los Angeles Office 

I was surprised to find that Earth Day started as part of a speech by Senator Gaylord Nelson to a conservation group in Seattle (of course) way back in 1969!

Wow – I had no idea.

So I decided to take a look at some things that we could do in our home and office that would be easy to execute – and with a little prodding, might become permanent changes that really could have a big impact on the environment.

Water is scarce in Southern California. Practically every summer we have water shortages. But that is a hard concept for many people to understand when you can turn the faucet on and get as much water as you want, any time you want it. Even in a water shortage. And recently I noticed that one of my roommates was taking 20 minute showers.

So today – for Earth Day – I asked all my roommates to try to limit their showers to just three minutes. Not just for today but from now on. Actually – three minutes of running water – they can stay in the shower as long as they want.

I know it can be done because I used to live in St Thomas where water is REALLY scarce, and all permanent residents of the island will tell you, any shower longer than two minutes is a luxury. Trust me – you get used to it. You adapt.

Everyone should now be aware of the fact that most tap water is as good if not better than any bottled water – and we as a country throw away a mountain of plastic each day of the year.  So I have asked my roommates to not purchase and bring any bottled water into the house. Yes, you can do it too. Go to the store and get a stainless steel water bottle.

Actually, I asked them to not buy anything in plastic containers if possible – especially products such as yogurt – which is actually a sugar laden concoction disguised as a “healthy” product. Same goes for soft drinks or energy drinks. Doesn’t it make more sense to take a long walk in the evening after dinner – or lunch – instead of that Red Bull or Caramel Macchiato??

This one might be a stretch – but we might start making our own laundry detergent at home. If not, we will all buy environmentally friendlier products at Whole Foods. No more Tide with “Afternoon in an English Garden” scent.

Even though we run a fairly “Green” office at work (we became essentially  “paperless”  a couple of years ago) we still have a wall full of plastic-based catalogs that not only spew tons of pollutants into the atmosphere when they are made, and then accumulate in our landfills, but use valuable resources for delivery – including man-hours. We will phase out the catalogs starting today, and ask our reps to not bring in any printed materials.

 I ride a motorcycle, and I know that not using a car saves a lot of money, but today I started thinking about the “Earth Day” aspects of riding a motorcycle, and I was surprised.

 I have not owned a car since I have lived in the Los Angeles area (which most people will tell you is impossible) and aside from when I am out with my girlfriend – I ride my motorcycle exclusively – or use the Metro.

 By my calculations I have saved nearly 2600 gallons of gasoline in the past four and a half years (think – an extra $7000 in the bank).

But it’s not just the money I am saving; think about the overall impact on the environment:

Motorcycles have much smaller batteries to dispose of, as well as only two tires to manufacture and throw away. And no antifreeze to find its way into our ocean (OK – some bikes do use liquid coolant – but not mine).

The bikes I ride have about 95% less plastic than the average car – and take a much smaller assembly line and facility to manufacture.

Just imagine the savings if a million more people switched to motorcycles or bicycles over the next decade! If you don’t think it is feasible, just go to an average small town in South America – say, Tarapoto, Peru – where probably 80% of the population ride motorcycles. Including grandmothers. Or drive by a large office building in Munich – or practically anywhere in Europe – and look at the thousands of bicycles parked outside.

Yeah, sure – I might get flattened by a guy in a Hummer someday – but that carton of yogurt or soda is just as deadly in the long run – and riding a motorcycle is much more exhilarating than a strawberry-banana yogurt.

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