Earth Day doesn't have to be just one day a year - these simple steps help protect Iowa's valuable natural resources all year long:
Save a Drop.
Water is a precious commodity often taken for granted. Even small actions yield big results. Save gallons a day by fixing leaky plumbing, taking shorter showers, turning off water when you're not using it (e.g., during teeth brushing, cooking). Save roughly one-third of the family’s water bill ($350 out of $1,100 annually) by replacing older fixtures and appliances. Look for WaterSense and ENERGY STAR labels when purchasing. Build a rain barrel (tutorial) to cut down on the landscaping third of your water bill. Find more tips from the U.S. EPA at epa.gov.
Don’t give anglers, hunters, picnickers and hikers a bad name. Pick up, clean up and watch your favorite fishing hole or hiking trail. Go the extra 20 steps and pick up someone else’s trash. Or, if you want a super experience – educational, emotional and physical – volunteer for Project AWARE on the Wapsipinicon River, July 11-16. Aside from the river clean up, wild edibles, turtles. prehistoric fish, Frank Lloyd Wright, Grant Wood, plants and preserves, snakes and mussels are on the agenda. Sign up by June 19.
No, it’s not the newest biking trend. It’s about being a smart, savvy and wealthier consumer while doing your part to save the planet. Check labels for recycling information and buy products that conserve resources, save energy and reduce waste. Buy only what you need. Then upcycle it when you are done, by finding creative new uses for old items, like repurposing an outgrown T-shirt into a cute tote bag, shotgun shells into a wreath and more. Find more ideas on our Upcycling board on Pinterest.
Corrosive, Poison, Toxic?
Check the labels. If it says warning, caution, danger, flammable or poison, contact your local solid waste agency for disposal options. Or, take unused hazardous materials to a Regional Collection Center, now serving 91 counties, where household solvents, pesticides, furnace thermometers and a host of other materials can be safely disposed.
Regional Collection Centers are places you can find paint, household cleaners, lawn chemicals, automotive products and other potentially hazardous, but useful, materials. Often for free.
Take it Outside.
If you love nature, taking a kid on a hike, a fishing trip or a picnic is the best way to pass along that love. You don’t have to be an expert, just cultivate the child’s sense of adventure. Try a nature scavenger hunt, find wildflowers, wade a stream, look for bugs and turn over rocks. Build a camp fire and let them cook. Collect leaves or build a sand castle. They can’t be bored.
Cut costs, build soil health, prevent erosion and have a beautiful yard. Mow grass longer, leave clippings on the lawn and minimize fertilizer use by applying only what’s needed when it’s needed. Cut back on pesticides and water use by planting drought- and insect-tolerant native plants, which also attract bees and butterflies. Add a rain garden to soak up excess runoff from roofs and driveways. More information on greenscaping from U.S. EPA, USDA-NRCS and Rainscaping Iowa.
For more ideas on how you can help protect Iowa's outdoors, check out our Take it Outside blog, and our Pinterest boards: Earth Day Every Day, Outdoor Kids and Education, Take It Outside, In Your Own Backyard, Upcycling and more at www.pinterest.com/iowadnr.