Earth Day 2013: Conserve today, secure tomorrow

From the 86th Civil Engineer Squadron

Photo5aOn Monday, more than 1 billion people in 192 countries worldwide will celebrate Earth Day.
Earth Day was first celebrated in the U.S. on April 22, 1970. U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin initiated the national day of education. The decision was made to create the day because more than 20 million Americans demonstrated in coast-to-coast rallies. They were protesting because they wanted a healthy, sustainable environment. The event was so successful it led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.

As a result, Americans began honoring Earth Day on April 22 every year. In 1990, Earth Day went global in 141 countries, and the event continues to spread internationally, providing a powerful focal point so people can demonstrate their commitment to being good stewards of the environment.

The aim for a clean environment continues as the possibility of climate change becomes more apparent every day. Scientists worldwide have found evidence suggesting the need to take action is more important than ever.

As we have seen in recent news, larger and more frequent storms are occurring; you only have to remember Huricane Sandy in 2012. The Mississippi River experienced two 500-year floods in 20 years, in 1993 and 2011, while Nashville suffered from the equivalent of a 1,000-year flood that caused $2 billion in damages in 2010. Though these may seem like extreme examples, they are becoming more common. If we don’t rethink our consumer behavior, we could steer our communities into an ecological crisis.

We don’t have to give up our lifestyles in order to effect a change; we only need to make smarter decisions. Do you really need to buy a new cell phone every 12 months? Can you use the old cotton shirt as a rag instead of buying new rags? Are you willing to purchase products from the many companies who use sustainable practices whenever possible? There is a popular movement toward sustainable consumerism occurring in the U.S., which promotes purchasing goods that are produced with the minimum amount of resource consumed in the production of those goods.

Sustainable consumerism can best be described with an organic farmers market. The food is grown without chemicals and shipped to a local market where it is purchased by the consumer. A large supermarket provides goods that are grown thousands of miles away, sometimes in a location that requires extensive irrigation; with various chemicals applied to increase the production of the food; and ships the food to a large store that consumes large amount of electricity where it is purchased by the consumer.

Farmers markets provide minimum resources used to produce a product that provides just as much, if not more, benefit to the consumer – you. Did you know many nearby cities, including Kaiserslautern, hold regular farmers markets?

Each of us can play a part in reducing our ecological footprint. Start with small steps, like changing your conventional light bulbs to energy saving bulbs, such as LED or CTL bulbs. These more efficient bulbs use 80 percent less energy and can last 10 times longer. Imagine, just replacing 10 bulbs will pay for themselves within one year, saving you about €25 per year, and reduce 14 kilograms of carbon emissions from being produced by electrical companies each year.

Additionally, fully powering off electronics, or even unplugging them, instead of keeping them on standby will save both energy and money, as will washing your clothes at a lower temperature to reduce hot water bills.
Another way to reduce the impact you have on the environment is to replace large vehicles with more fuel-efficient models.

Vehicles powered by alternative fuel sources, like electricity and biofuels, are becoming increasingly available and more affordable. Simply giving your vehicle regular tune-ups, ensuring your tires are inflated to the proper air pressure, and driving more conservatively will increase your vehicle’s efficiency. Keep in mind reducing the number of trips you take in your car, taking public transportation, car-pooling, bicycling, walking, or shopping at neighborhood stores can reduce the impact to the environment as well.

During Earth Day 2013, think about all the little things you can do that will save money at home and at work, protect the environment, and help your family to focus on sustainability.

The Ramstein Environmental Management Office has scheduled these events to mark this year’s Earth Day:
» Monday: tree planting with elementary school students
» Tuesday: a water plant tour for sixth-graders
» April 27: forest cleanup with the Barbarossa Scouts
» April 29: a falconer’s presentation to middle school students

For more tips on reducing your ecological footprint, go to, visit the Ramstein Facebook site or contact 86th Civil Engineer Squadron asset management flight at 480-7279 or 06371-47-7279.