Earth Day: Five small steps to a billion acts of green

Do your part to save the earth: simple things can help. Start by turning off the lights!

Shazia Yousuf April 22, 2011
Today is the 41st anniversary of the Earth Day. This year’s theme is “A billion acts of green” and the goal is to generate a billion acts of environmental service and advocacy before the global Earth Summit 2012 in Rio.

We can all contribute to a greener earth by doing at least one act of conservation in order to make those “billion acts of green” possible.

1. Recycle

Start by recycling at home. We could encourage our kids to re-use old cans, tins and cardboard boxes to make useful things at home, like jewelry boxes and bookmarks. We can also reuse jam jars and ice cream tubs as storage box for cookies and other food stuff. You may be surprised by how much can be recycled or reused!

2. Go paperless

Try to use paper as little possible. Share documents through email or keep them in a repository that is easily accessible to the relevant people. Sometimes paper can't be avoided, so use recycled paper and envelopes that have been processed and coloured using eco-friendly methods. Pens and pencils can also be made from recycled material and refillable pens and markers are preferable to disposable ones.

Of course while print outs should be avoided it is best to use recyclable printer cartridges, since recycled replacements are cheaper than new ones.

3. Efficient electricity

Keeping in mind the power crisis that we are faced with, try using compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent ones. LED lamps are also gaining popularity since they use less energy.

Many appliances have "standby" settings that draw power. Sometimes this takes as much as 15 or 20 watts, even when they're turned off. To make sure that computers, monitors, printers, photocopy machines, televisions, VCRs, DVD players, and microwave ovens are not wasting any energy turn the appliance off and pull the plug rather than just flipping the switch on the machine.

4. Enjoy the sunshine!

By far, the best and most economical source of light is the sun. Make the most of daylight by keeping your blinds and curtains open when light is required during day. Sunlight not only lights up the room, but morning sun rays are also supposed to be anti bacterial. It is not uncommon for interior air to be more contaminated with toxic chemicals than the air outdoors. Wooden furniture, carpeting, and paint are common sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a family of chemicals that pollute the indoor environment. VOCs have been linked to birth defects, endocrine disruption, and cancer.

5. Turn off the lights!

As efficient as your lighting equipment might be, it doesn't make sense to have lights and fans on when no one is around. As friendly public awareness ad remind us if you use an air conditioners, set the temperature to 26 degrees or higher and make use of the timer to turn the machine off when the room has cooled.

Every little step makes a difference so tell your family and friends about how they can help too!

Not only will you be saving the earth but you will save a few bucks on your electricity bills as well!

What are you doing to make a difference?
Shazia Yousuf A software engineer who blogs at
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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