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Earth Day

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Observe Earth Day Year Round

Today is Earth Day.  First observed 39 years ago today, Earth Day’s theme was “New Energy for a New Era” focusing on accelerating the transition to renewable energy worldwide.  Today, renewable energy remains an important public policy issue.  While policy makers address energy on a national and global scale, there are many ways individuals can take action to reduce energy consumption and the carbon footprint we leave behind us.

The Earth Day Network offers a Top Ten list of doable actions.

Switch light bulbs to the CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs).  Although the initial purchase price is higher, they should save energy costs over their lifetime.  (Be sure to save your purchase receipts in case any should be defective.)

Drive less.  When you trade vehicles, look for a more fuel efficient option.

Keep your house 2 degrees warmer in summer and cooler in winter.  If one in 10 households serviced heating and cooling systems annually, cleaned or replaced filters regularly, used a programmable thermostat and replaced old equipment with ENERGY STAR models it would prevent the emissions of more than 17 billion pounds of greenhouse gases.

Clean the condenser coil on your refrigerator.

Run household appliances less.  Wash small dish loads by hand, or wait to run the dishwasher until you have a full load.  Wash clothes in cold water.  Dry clothes on the low heat setting or, when possible, hang them on an outdoor clothesline.

Plant trees to act as wind breaks and provide shade.  Mulch trees, shrubs, and flowers to reduce water evaporation.  Mow grass with sharp blades and only when it needs cutting (when it exceeds 3 inches).

Buy green energy.  Investigate solar panels, geothermal and wind power.  Home wind turbines reduce electricity consumption.

Go organic.  Buy local foods in season, which save the high cost of transportation from Florida, California, and South America.  Take advantage of area farmers’ markets.  The Tazewell market season runs May through October and is an excellent source of delicious vegetables, fruits, herbs, meats, all grown locally and many organically.

Recycle.  Collection bins are located throughout the county and accept cardboard, plastic, metal, aluminum, and newspapers.  Donate old computers for refurbishing or, if they are too old to be of value to someone else, remove the battery before sending them to the landfill.  Recycle batteries at Virginia Battery Co (988-5655).  Deposit plastic bags in collection bins at your grocery store.  Use and re-use cloth bags when grocery shopping.

Consume less.  Buy in bulk to reduce packaging.  Buy better quality for longer lasting products you will have to replace less frequently.  Be creative about leisure purchases.  Use your library to borrow books, movies, audiobooks, and magazines and save the cost of purchasing them.

The Library offers many helpful guides to green living.  “EarthTalk: Expert Answers to Everyday Questions about the Environment” collects questions and answers from the nationally syndicated column from the editors of E/The Environmental Magazine.  The authors answer specific questions (“Is there a toothpaste without artificial sweeteners?”) with names and sources.  More general questions (“Is the earth running out of oil?”) are answered with facts and statistics.

From National Geographic comes “Green Guide: The Complete Reference for Consuming Wisely”.  This handy book treats healthier eating, housekeeping, home improvement, decorating, personal beauty and hygiene, transportation, recreation, gardening, pet care, and school and office resources.

Ed Begley, of ER fame, has written “Living Like Ed”, with tips for environmentally friendly living that anyone can try to make a positive change for the environment.

The University of Tennessee Press has published “Healing Appalachia: Sustainable Living through Appropriate Technology”, an interesting overview of a variety of green living strategies in this region.  Among topics addressed are solar, hydro, and wind power, native building materials, shade trees and windbreaks, edible landscaping, organic gardening and orcharding, heritage plants (chestnuts, apples, herbs), composting, ponds and aquaculture, cisterns, water catchments, irrigation, and land reclamation with native species.

William H. Kemp provides a detailed technical manual in “The Renewable Energy Handbook: A Guide to Rural Energy Independence, Off-Grid and Sustainable Living”.  Among topics covered is residential wind turbines with information on turbine ratings, determining wind resources in your area, locating and installing equipment, safety, tower foundations and anchors, electrical supply leads, and erecting a tower with a crane.

For perspective on why all the green buzz matters, read Thomas L. Friedman’s “Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How It Can Renew America”.  The multi-Pulitzer Prize winning foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times and frequent talk show guest, Friedman is colorful, provocative, inspiring—and worth reading.

For more on the environment and what you can do to care for it, visit the library in person, on the web at, or call 988-2541.

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Online collection of animated, talking picture books to encourage reading in children.


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