By Marla Bautista

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Earth Day? Recycled robots for class projects, planting flowers, or community clean ups? Honestly, for me, it’s the Michael Jackson song, “Heal the World”, random, I know. But for me, this song is the true epitome of Earth Day.  Taking care of the Earth is our responsibility. Are you doing your part?  There are so many ways to contribute to the health of our planet. You can recycle, spend more time outdoors, use refillable bottles and other plastic containers.  These are just a few of the simple ways to positively contribute to our environment.

Use less Energy.

I know what you’re thinking! Not your physical energy, although R & R never hurt anyone. Use less Kinetic Energy, like electricity. Spend some time outdoors.  Take your children or pets on a nature hike.  There are many different activities you can do outdoors. Check out this article, for more information about Earth Day activities. I love to take my children for walks, my son loves to collect rocks, and my daughter loves to tell stories about nature and all the fairies therein.  Picnics, bike rides, and community clean ups, are a few of my personal favorite outdoor activities.

Cut down on Paper Waste.

Many people already use paperless billing.  It is easy, you receive all your information at the touch of a button. It’s more convenient, you no longer have to wait for billing statements in the mail. One thing I do to cut down on paper waste in our home is cut old booklets that have only been printed on one side, bind them together and use them as scratch paper or sketch paper for my children. You can recycle cereal boxes, Girl Scout cookie boxes, and any other paper products you use in your home.

Chemical and Electronic Waste.

Stop! Before you throw away your old cellphones, batteries, earbuds or any other electronic items, check if they can be recycled here. There are designated places to take electronic and chemical waste.  Check at your local recycle center first.  If they don’t take a specific item, they should let you know who will.

Reuse Plastic Containers.

We don’t realize how much plastic we use, that can’t or won’t be recycled. Did you know that less than half the water bottles we use, will be recycled? Just think about all the parties, marathons, and carnivals we attend that offer bottled drinks.  Sometimes, there are recycling cans nearby, however, most of the time the bottles are just thrown in the garbage.  When you go to the grocery market, try taking your own reusable bags to store your items.  This, overtime, helps cuts costs and lessens the amount of waste in our landfills. Using a refillable water bottle does take a little extra time, but it also adds a little extra life to our planet.

My family used to live in Germany where it was mandatory to recycle.  We were used to separating plastic, paper, compost, and rubbish.  Here in America, it is much different. Every state, county, and city often have their own rules when it comes to recycling.

Participate in Earth Day, not only on April 22nd, but every day. We need the Earth to survive and the Earth needs our help to thrive.  Let’s teach our children the importance of life, in all forms. Make an investment that will grow forever!

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Marla Bautista  is an Army wife, a mother of three, and an author.  Her most recently published book, My Thoughts Abandoned, was released in early 2017.  She is also a freelance writer who spends most of her time writing for military lifestyle blogs.  She received her Associate of Arts Degree from the University of Maryland University College and is on the verge of completing her Bachelor's Degree in Communications.  She was recently named Armed Forces Insurance 2018 Military Spouse of Base Level Winner for Fort Drum. In her free time she enjoys volunteering within the local community. To learn more about Marla-follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sgm_hh6/