A Plea for the Earth

A Plea for the Earth

March of 2020 turned all of our lives on their heads, especially those of patients, medical personnel and the newly unemployed and all news is now focused on the pandemic. This does not change the underlying fact that a much larger threat to our well-being is still lurking. Climate Change marches on and, while we have been robbed of in-person Earth Day celebrations, it is still beholden to us to do something on a daily basis to mitigate climate change.

I am appalled that, when asked what people can do, the so called “experts” reply that we should vote and get out of our cars. Those are two great first steps, but they by no means encompass all that we, as individuals, can and should be doing to stop climate change. In honor of Earth Day, I present a few more suggestions.

The single biggest thing that we can all do to combat climate change is to stop wasting food. Forty percent of all food produced in the U.S. is wasted. According to StopFoodWaste.org, “When we waste food, we are wasting all the energy, water and resources that went into producing that food.” Globally, agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s freshwater and 37 percent of its land, so if we waste less food, that is more water and land available for rivers and marshes and for endangered species in terrestrial ecosystems. And more acres for forests that will sequester carbon.

We can also directly use less water. I was a teen in Marin in the 1970s during a severe drought in which the Marin County nearly ran out of water. To this day, I turn off the water when I brush my teeth and never just let the tap run. (And I’ll turn off your tap too!) If everyone used less, there would be more for salmon and more to replenish our depleted groundwater.

Wise garden choices will also minimize water use. Plant drought tolerant California native or Mediterranean plants and get rid of thirsty lawns. Drip irrigation on a timer will greatly reduce water use. Using organic mulches will keep water in the ground and will sequester carbon.

Finally, we need to use less electricity. Standing on my porch at night, I can see four houses in my neighborhood where the porch lights burn through the entire night every single night. Three of those households have children and at some point in those children’s future, they are going to want that cheap power back. 

Concerned about crime? Use a motion sensor. Turning out lights when we leave the room or turning off unused appliances does not mean we have to live poorer lives now and will mean that we can live richer lives in the future.

Saving our planet isn’t only up to governments and large corporations. It is something that all of us can and must do on a daily basis.  

Birgitt Evans is an Alameda County Master Gardener and a volunteer with Alameda Backyard Growers.