Inspired by environmental activism in the 1960s, the first Earth Day was organized on April 22, 1970. Each year the day is celebrated worldwide to raise awareness of environmental concerns around the globe. Working toward a common goal, each of us can adopt lifestyle changes and support technologies to make a more sustainable planet for future generations.
Bridgeland is a LEED Precertified community and our overarching concept is living in harmony with nature. Since its inception, The Howard Hughes Corporation has incorporated numerous low-impact development techniques for more environmental benefit. The purple pipe water reuse system that irrigates landscaping in all common areas, the purposeful planting of native trees, plants and grasses, rain gardens, bioswales and the future LEED-certified mass timber office building with water cistern to be built in Village Green at Bridgeland Central are just some of the features that make our community more sustainable.
In this article, we’ve put together a few small steps to take to help support Mother Earth and her inhabitants, as well as a sampling of some of the events in our area celebrating Earth Day.
One of the easiest things people can do to help our planet is to recycle. Knowing the difference between trash and what and how to recycle can make a huge impact. Republic Service’s website provides plenty of information regarding the do’s and don’ts of recycling. They’ve reduced the instructions to three. 1: recycle plastic and glass bottles, cans, paper, and flattened cardboard. 2: Keep food and liquid out of your recycling, which means you need to rinse your bottles and cans and put the caps back on before throwing them in the recycle bin. And 3: no loose plastic bags or putting your recycling in a plastic bag as they can shut down an entire recycling plant. Be sure all items are in the bin, otherwise they are not considered recycled material and will not be treated as such, but rather as trash. Following these simple instructions can make your recycling efforts more effective.
Recycling is a bigger deal than you might think. Did you know that recycling just one aluminum can will save enough energy to power either one 100-watt light bulb for 20 hours, a TV set for 2 hours, or a computer for 3 hours? Each year, 2 million tons of electronics are tossed in the trash. You know that bunch of electronic stuff you’ve been meaning to get rid of? This recycling website can help you find donation centers for all kinds of items. Learn about how to recycle batteries here. Clothing is another item that is accumulating in our landfills. Try donating useable items like denim and bras and upcycling the rest. This store takes your old tee shirts and turns them into amazing new clothing.
Planting a tree in your backyard can be a fun activity that will have lasting benefits, providing a home for birds, and helping to clean the air. You might want to venture to Tom Bass Park at 3452 Fellows Rd. in Houston on April 22, as Trees for Houston is giving away 3-gallon trees and seeds, while they last.
Plant milkweed to help pollinators. As more land becomes developed, there are less resources for a healthy monarch habitat. Did you know that milkweed is the only plant on which an adult monarch will lay its eggs and the only plant on which a monarch caterpillar will feed? It’s true, but it must be the native variety. In our region, the Green Antelopehorn Milkweed, Antelopehorns Milkweed, or the Zisotes Milkweed are the preferred varieties to plant. Many garden centers sell the tropical variety that continues to bloom in winter, which encourages the monarchs to stay instead of moving on to warmer climates, causing them to get sick and reducing their population.
Go plogging. What’s that you ask? Take a bag with you on your daily walk, run or hike, and pick up any trash along your trail. Better yet, start a group and make it a habit to do cleanups throughout the year. Earthday.org offers resources to get started on organizing a cleanup, fact sheets on plastics and their effect on our water supply, and describes their work on planting trees around the globe known as the Canopy Project.
A Cypress Earth Day Celebration is happening at Cypress Health and Wellness. Celebrating Mother Earth on Saturday, April 22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the event will feature eco-friendly businesses that take used materials and give them new life to make their products. Located at 17774 Cypress Rosehill Rd, the family-friendly event is free to the public.
The Houston Public Works is hosting their popular Water Works Festival on Saturday, April 22 from noon to 5 p.m. on Discovery Green. The festival includes interactive exhibits to inform visitors about our most vital resource, live music, performances and art installations. Face painting, crafts and other family-friendly activities will also be available throughout the day. Discovery Green is located at 1500 McKinney St.
Learn about initiatives being taken by the city for a greener Houston at The Earth Day HTX Festival with speakers discussing climate action, mass transportation and Houston’s water future. Taking place on Wednesday, April 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Herman Square in front of City Hall, located at 900 Smith St. Displays include numerous hands-on activities and interactive booths from city departments and community partners showcasing energy and water conservation, storm water infrastructure, air purification, butterfly garden, tree giveaways, interactive recycling games, electric vehicle cars, solar power, and much more.
You can also register for the 3-day event of Earth Day HTX which starts with lectures held at the Julia Ideson Library at 550 McKinney St. Monday and Tuesday, April 17 and 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days, enjoy a speaker series that features environmental expert panels discussing transportation, solar, carbon capturing and more. The final day is the Earth Day HTX Festival mentioned earlier. Register on Eventbrite; the event is free.
Visit the Houston Arboretum this Earth Day as they celebrate Earth’s Heroes. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, you can meet some real local superheroes: wildland firefighters, park rangers, wildlife rehabilitators, and other incredible conservation professionals. You can learn how to be a hero for our planet while having fun enjoying interactive booths, nature hikes, and fun displays in the Discovery Room. Fun for the whole family, this event is free and will be held rain or shine. Crafts will be available while supplies last. The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is located at 4501 Woodway Dr.
A little closer to home, you can get a sunflower or seeds to plant by visiting the Willowbrook Mall on Saturday, April 22 between 11 a.m. and noon. Enter the mall by Dick’s Sporting Goods, the “Let’s Get Dirty” event will last as long as they have sunflowers or seeds to give away.
Here are a few other small steps to take to help conserve energy and reduce waste every day:
• Use caulk and weather stripping to seal around doors and windows to help reduce energy consumption
• Reduce (waste); Reuse items (including repurposing items for use in storage or crafts; recycle properly)
• Eat locally by purchasing perishables from local growers – or –
• Start a garden and grow your own vegetables
• Start a compost bin and use the rich dirt in your garden
• Turn off lights in rooms you are not occupying
• Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth
• Unplug your devices and chargers when not in use
• Use a refillable (non-plastic) water bottle (It takes 450 years for plastic bottles to biodegrade)
• Use reusable travel mugs for coffee instead of tossable to-go cups
• Walk with your child to the bus stop instead of driving
• Follow smart watering guidelines for your lawn
• Stop using mylar and latex balloons as mylar never biodegrades and latex isn’t much better
Earth Day gives us the opportunity to cultivate awareness of environmental health. When each of us takes small measures like some mentioned here, the effects can be amplified when we all work toward the same goal. Let’s make Earth Day every day.