Everyday Should be Earth Day

 “Less is more,” could easily be my life motto – except, of course, when it comes to recycling.

When we moved to Brentwood five years ago, the city delivered one smallish recycling bin and a schedule for every other Friday pickup. In San Jose, all recycling was picked up weekly and our recycling bin was large and overflowing.

With a newborn in my arms, a three year old at my feet and unopened moving boxes abound, I quickly penned a lovely letter inquiring when exactly, I should expect the City to commence a weekly recycling pickup. (I’m a bit brazen when it comes to recycling.)

Not even a month went by before the good folks at the City of Brentwood called to answer questions and inform me that there are no future plans for weekly recycling. I gasped, sputtered, coughed. Then, I asked, what should I do with all my recycling? The city rep kindly offered to replace our small barrel with two extra large recycling bins for no additional cost. Over the course of the next six months, neighbors stopped to ask me how I scored an extra recycling bin and slowly, our street became peppered with matching blue boxes. All was right in my world.

Recycling batteries, toting reusable bags to the market and limiting plastic water bottles – these are things I do every day to tread a little lighter. However, there is so much more that my family can do. National Geographic’s “Green Guide Families” is without question, the best family resource book I have read.  It deserves a place of honor in between the cookbooks and yellow pages – so that it’s handy for those everyday eco questions.   

The Green Guide is filled with all kinds of “who knew” tidbits, facts and suggestions for keeping our families and earth healthy.  Here are a few of my favorite “did you know?” factoids…

  • Is feeding the ducks really that bad? Feeding the ducks bread is very bad for them and not so great for us.  The ducks forget how to find their own food and stop flying north or south or wherever they go for holiday, which leads to overcrowding and lots of bird droppings.  Ewww.
  • What happens to the balloons?  Helium balloons that are released into the air, float up and explode into tiny particles (which are not biodegradable) and are found in the tummies of sea animals.  Who eats the fish?  Enough said.
  • Wood mulch or recycle rubber playground mulch?  Homes, schools and  parks across America are switching over to rubber playground mulch made from recycled tires in lieu of sand or wood mulch.  It’s seemingly a brilliant idea.  Wrong!  The recycled tire rubber is toxic and stinky. Peee-uuu.
  • Live or fake Christmas tree?  I was thrilled and relieved to learn that my annual indulgence of a live tree is the better environmental choice.  Apparently, artificial trees are made from PVC, which releases harmful dioxins and cause health problems.   Plus, fresh trees help with soil erosion and give off oxygen before donning a place of honor in the house.  Then, of course, it’s recycled and shredded into mulch for use on the playground.  Winner!

And, my favorite eco tip is no surprise to anyone who’s received a gift from me … books!  Books top the break-out category of granola giving.  It comes in its own beautifully wrapped packaging and is something to cherish and share for all time. 

With that, I bid you a healthy and sun-shinning Earth Day every day.

This post was inspired by National Geographic’s “Green Guide Families,” as part of SV Mom’s Book Club.   It’s an indispensible handbook that offers eco-friendly tips on everything from food to holidays to family vacations.

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