What does it mean to be green? "Green" is more than just a color. It also means taking special steps to protect the environment — the water, the land, and the air we breathe. Why green? Plants are green, and without them the Earth wouldn't be such a lovely home for us human beings.
Every day, people make choices that affect the amount of trash and pollution that gets produced in our world. What can you do? A whole lot, actually. Here's a four-step guide to being green:
When you use less of something, you do a good thing for the Earth. For instance, a shorter shower means you used less water and less fuel since your house uses fuel to run the water heater that warmed up the water.
Here's a list of other stuff you can reduce:
Sometimes people call ours a "throwaway society." That means that we're a little too willing to throw away old stuff and buy new stuff. Many times, even if you no longer need something, someone else just might. For instance, if your baby brother outgrows his plastic basketball hoop, why not give it to another family who has a little kid? That's one less plastic basketball set that they need to buy. It's also one less large plastic toy that needs to be produced, packaged, and shipped to the toy store.
Here are some additional ways to reuse the stuff you have:
Recycling has never been easier. Many communities will pick it up right in front of your house and some towns even require it. Tell your mom or dad you want to become "Chief of Recycling" for your household. That means you'll organize the recyclable items in bins, remember to put them on the curb on recycling day, and help remind others which items can be rinsed and recycled.
By separating plastic bottles, cans, bottles, and more, you're reducing the amount of trash that goes to the landfill. What's a landfill? A big mountain of trash, where all the trash trucks go to dump their loads. Recycled goods go instead to a recycling center, where they can be crushed, broken down, and later turned into new cans, bottles, and paper.
What else can be recycled? Sometimes water can be. For instance, some communities take used water — like from the washing machine and shower — and clean it up so it's safe to use for watering the grass and flowers.
It's true that trash and pollution are problems, but the Earth remains a huge and glorious place that's ready for you to explore. You can start locally by visiting the naturally beautiful spots in your city and state. Go for a hike, visit local nature centers and gardens, climb up mountains, and explore lazy creeks.
Experience the outdoors in all sorts of weather — from a sunny day at the beach or lake to a wintry adventure when it snows. And if you're planning a family vacation, suggest a trip to a national treasure, such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, or Chincoteague Island to roam with the wild ponies.
But before you travel the globe, take a look at your own backyard. Is there a spot where you could plant a tree or put in a little fruit or vegetable garden? If so, get out there and get your hands dirty. Then you can watch with pride as your tree takes root and your garden plants grow from sprigs to big plants full of ripe, red tomatoes or tiny, succulent blueberries. Who knew being green would taste so good?
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: September 2013
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