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NEWS | April 16, 2012

Protect the Earth, it's the only one we have

By Emma Watterson Environmental Specialist

The essence of Earth Day revolves around the philosophy of "sustainability." There is only one Earth and somehow, someway, we must figure out how to make it last to sustain life.

In the last several decades, there has emerged a realization that resources are not unlimited. Supply of critical resources, such as oil and rare earth metals, are already declining. The Earth's human population continues to grow and emerging countries are increasing their demand for resources. Clean air, clean water and food could become critical.

Years ago, environmentalists coined the phrase "Think Globally, Act Locally." This is still an excellent idea to guide our actions. Americans by far use more resources per capita than any other country in the world.

Why should we protect the Earth? Since there is only one Earth, our only place to live, we need to find ways to protect our home and resources for many generations to come.

What are the benefits of protecting the Earth?

1) Job creation/Steady economy: Jobs are created to find alternative fuels/energy and to build and install "green" technology.

2) Protects and improves national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and tapping into our own natural resources.

3) Saves Money: Reducing the amount of energy and water used will reduce the amount of money spent annually on these resources.

4) Protects biodiversity of animals and plants for future generations. Protects species of plants and animals from extinction.

How can we protect the Earth?

1) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Reduce the amount of waste you produce by bringing reusable grocery bags to the store. Bring travel mugs and reusable coffee cups and get a discount at Starbucks. Bring your own lunch in reusable containers (you'll eat healthier and save money). Thrift shops, yard sales, clothing swaps, and hand-me-downs are great ways to save money on clothing and furniture, especially for children. Check with your local recycling company for a list of products that can be recycled. You can also learn more through, and,

2) Purchase a Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, share from a local farm. Locate a farm through or Or grow your own garden.

3) Save fuel and money by carpooling or vanpooling or taking local public transportation. If you live on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, bike or walk to work, if possible.

4) Conserve water by installing low-flow technology (showerheads, toilets, faucets). Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when full.

5) To save energy keep shades closed when the air conditioner is on, since sunny windows account for 40 percent of unwanted heat and can make your air conditioner work two to three times harder.

6) Run appliances and equipment with large energy use early in the morning or late in the evening (before 11 a.m. or after 9 p.m.). Unplug any appliance or equipment when not in use. Electric chargers, televisions, and audio/video equipment use electricity and produce heat even when they are not in use. Turn off computer monitor and printers when you leave the office at end of your workday or when away from workstation for extended period of time.

7) Turn lights off when exiting a room and in unoccupied offices and training areas. In occupied areas, reduce lighting to minimum for safety and productivity. Be proactive by walking through your areas and turning off unnecessary electrical loads.

8) "Buy Green Products": Purchase items with post-consumer or recycled content (i.e. - office paper, cardboard, toilet paper/paper towels, electronic devices, pens/pencils, etc.). Buy "eco-friendly" cleaning products (free of dyes and phosphorus and toxic chemicals).

We want the Earth to exist for future generations. Celebrate Earth Day every day. Find activities to do today and each day to protect the Earth. Go for the "low-hanging fruit" first and pick simple steps each day to conserve and preserve our natural resources. Participate in local Earth Day events. Happy Earth Day 2012!