In Honor of Earth Day

April 19, 2008

For those working to protect the environment, the month of April is like New Year’s; the arrival of spring reminds us of the beauty and majesty of the natural environment.  We renew our resolve to protect that environment and Earth Day festivities help to educate and engage individuals and communities on a range of environmental issues. In light of all this, it makes sense that the Goldman Fund announces its annual Goldman Environmental Prize winners every April. Once again this year, six environmental activists, one from each continent (except Antarctica), received this prestigious award.  And once again, I am fortunate enough to know one of the recipients: Marina Rikhvanova from Russia.  Marina’s organization, Baikal Environmental Wave, is one of the cornerstone environmental NGOs in her country.  Despite a government which has become increasingly hostile towards the NGO community, Marina and her colleagues can claim some amazing accomplishments.  First and foremost was the successful fight to keep construction of the world’s longest oil pipeline away from the world’s deepest fresh water lake, Lake Baikal.  Oil and gas development are not the only threats to the lake and the surrounding region.  Marina is now leading the effort to stop the construction of a uranium enrichment center near the lake.  Taking on both the oil industry and the nuclear industry in Russia is no small task and Marina does this despite personal and professional risks.  Not everyone faces such daunting challenges, but recognizing those who do can and should inspire us to do more to protect the natural world around us in ways big and small.

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Earth Day Everyday

April 23, 2007

Like most environmentally-conscious indviduals, I try to do my part to reduce my ecological footprint. That effort can be hit or miss, but as an eternal optimist I believe that the effort and the desire to do more are most important. The “misses” are usually do to a lack of time or just the propensity to be lazy in the midst of a busy schedule, like the days that I drive to the store when I could walk or throw away the messy ziploc bag instead of washing and reusing it. Sometimes the combination of laziness and desire to do good have some interesting results.

For example, right now our faucet in the kitchen drips. It used to only drip if you didn’t get the handle in just the right place, but the other day I realized that it drips regardless of how carefully you turn off the water. Clearly we need to fix the faucet, but it is one of those things that I only think about when I am in the kitchen trying to fix dinner or doing something else that doesn’t allow extra time for fiddling with the kitchen sink faucet. But I feel bad about the dripping and I know that we are wasting a reasonably large amount of water. So one night, I stuck a large cup under the faucet before going to bed. The next morning, the cup was filled to the rim, so I drank the water as I rushed around getting breakfast ready and put another cup under the faucet. This practice continued for a day or two before my husband got the idea to put the water filter container under the faucet and allow it to collect water. I have to say it actually works pretty well and takes care of two problems–keeping the perpetually empty water filter container filled and preventing us from wasting all the water that drips from the faucet.

Of course any process is not without its faults. Doing anything else in the sink while the filter is there is next to impossible. And while the drip is regular, it’s not the fastest filling process.

Maybe we should stop trying to be so creative and celebrate Earth Day by fixing the faucet.

Just a thought.