Small actions lead to big results. Especially during Earth Week, DEM encourages Rhode Islanders not to let the severity of climate change stop us from making behavioral changes that can contribute to a healthier planet.
PROVIDENCE – During Earth Week, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Keep Blackstone Valley Beautiful are encouraging Rhode Islanders to be mindful of taking small but purposeful steps to live more sustainably.
"Climate change is the major environmental issue of our time, yet it is often framed as such a hopelessly large problem," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Taking stock of our individual actions and making small, yet concrete changes in our own behavior are meaningful ways to reduce emissions and preserve our environment. As the Ocean State, we know and see the direct impacts of climate change, from more intense storms to hotter summers. We often wonder – what can we do about it? I encourage all Rhode Islanders to take steps toward living more sustainably."
"Keep Blackstone Valley Beautiful believes that each of us holds an obligation to preserve and protect our environment," said Donna Kaehler, Director of Keep Blackstone Valley Beautiful, the Pawtucket-based affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. "Through our everyday choices and actions, we collectively have a huge impact on our world. It's really a simple concept, but one with far-reaching effects."
12 SIMPLE STEPS TO LIVE MORE SUSTAINABLY
1. Eat local – Rhode Island has a vibrant food community with lots of great options for locally sourced ingredients. DEM strongly supports local farms, fishing industries, and shellfishing. Visit Relish Rhody for more information and patronize restaurants that use local ingredients.
2. Drive less and be mindful of your driving style – Carpool, walk, or bike to lower emissions and relieve road congestion. Planning trips to conduct errands in a common area can reduce miles traveled as well. When driving, observe the speed limit and avoid unnecessary acceleration. You'll reduce emissions and save money on gas at the same time.
3. Conserve energy in your home – As old bulbs and appliances reach the end of their useful life, replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs and replace old appliances with energy-efficient appliances. Also, avoid "energy vampires" by unplugging devices when they're not being used or use power strips with on/off switches. Program your thermostat so that your heating and cooling systems use less energy when you're not home.
4. Think about your water usage – Modern high-efficiency washing machines and laundry detergents are formulated to be just as effective when using cold water as hot water. Using cold water can lead to significant energy savings every month. Also, you can lower the hot water temperature on your water heater for additional savings.
5. Dry your clothes on a clothesline – Line-drying your clothes saves energy and wear-and-tear on your dryer. Bonus: sunshine is a natural disinfectant for wet clothes. If you can't line-dry your clothes, consider using a lower heat setting or shorter drying cycles on your dryer to conserve energy.
6. Reusable plastics – Eliminating single-use plastics saves energy, reduces unsightly litter, and protects marine life. Next time you go to the farmer's market, bring reusable bags with you; with your next beverage, skip the single-use straw, and use a refillable water bottle. Be sure to bring your cloth shopping bags along on your next trip to the grocery store.
7. Don't let trash fly – Always bag trash. Use covers on your trash bins and close the doors and lids on dumpsters. Be sure trash is properly contained in open areas on trucks, boats, and other moving vehicles.
8. Pick up litter – Next time you're outdoors, take a few minutes to pick up any litter that may have accumulated on your property and along the roadway. With everyone's help, miles and miles of streets could easily become litter-free.
9. Join a community cleanup. Help beautify local neighborhoods and recreation areas by getting involved in a community cleanup project. Earth Week events are occurring across Rhode Island, and the Environment Council of RI has compiled a calendar of events to help you find one in your community.
10. Purchase renewable energy – In RI, you have the option to purchase your energy from a renewable/non-fossil fuel source. Choose a supplier that exceeds state renewable energy standards from the list provided by the RI Public Utilities Commission.
11. Raise your environmental IQ. Explore easy ways you can contribute to a healthier planet: conserve water and energy, reduce waste, and support local farms and conservation efforts.
12. Get outside! – Enjoy our environment and natural resources by visiting a nearby state park, campground, or management area. Rhode Island is home to more than 400 miles of hiking trails and abundant fresh- and saltwater paddling opportunities. Get your heart rate going and enjoy spring's bloom on the Blackstone River Bikeway and East Bay Bike Path. For more information including detailed maps, visit RIDOT's website. For freshwater anglers, DEM is stocking many popular waterways across Rhode Island with brook, brown, and rainbow trout. The physical, mental, and emotional benefits of time outside are well documented. As the late neurologist and author Oliver Sacks wrote in Everything in Its Place, "All of us have had the experience of wandering through a lush garden or timeless desert, walking by a river or an ocean, or climbing a mountain and finding ourselves simultaneously calmed and invigorated, engaged in mind, refreshed in body and spirit. The importance of these physiological states on individual and community health is fundamental and wide-ranging."
Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has served as a yearly catalyst for environmental education, action, and change. Now, we extend that ethos to span an entire week. Activities during Earth Week are focused on broadening public involvement in protecting natural resources and promoting a healthier environment for future generations.
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