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Earth Day

Make Earth Day an everyday affair

flowerThe choices for recycled goods are extensive and the products are readily available. Earth Day is almost upon us and many people are focusing on what they can do to make the world a better place. But after Earth Day, sporadic environmentalists go back to their usual routine and the desire to protect the environment fades. An easy way to keep the spirit of Earth Day alive throughout the rest of the year is to buy recycled content products.

The Buy Recycled Business Alliance contends that most recycled products are equal in quality, appearance and performance to virgin products. In addition, recycled content products undergo stringent testing and exacting performance documentation, which take the guess work out of buying decisions. And, most are priced the same as virgin.

The choices are extensive, and the products are readily available. Items ranging from cars and appliances, to cereal boxes and bathroom tissue, or cabinets and tile flooring are available in recycled content, and most can be found right alongside virgin products. According to the Buy Recycled Business Alliance, the key to shopping wisely is to "Look, Ask and Persist." Here are some tips to help do this.

  • Look on the product's packaging for information about recycled content. Although manufacturers are not required to label products which contain recycled content, many are doing so to make it easier for the consumer to make choices.
  • Look for recycled content versus a product that is recyclable. Just because a product is labeled as recyclable does not mean that it is made from recycled materials. Recyclable products are good, but recycled content ones are even better.
  • Look for the amount of recycled content in the product. There is no right or wrong amount, but the more, especially "post-consumer content," the better. So, compare the products you are considering to see which one has the most recycled content and select the one with the higher percentage.
  • Don't hesitate to seek help when in doubt. The Buy Recycled Business Alliance at the National Recycling Coalition is one resource.
  • Ask the seller, vendor or retailer to provide you with information about the manufacturer's program for a product that interests you. Usually a company with a successful recycling operation can provide details about its program.
  • Ask for references from people who have used the product. This information should be available, especially for major purchases. Most people will be happy to share what they know. Then, ask how long they have used the product. Question how it is holding up. Ask if they are pleased with its performance. How was its price compared to what they used before?
  • Ask about warranties, satisfaction guarantees and other proof-of- performance claims. Most manufacturers automatically back their products with these types of warranties.
  • Be persistent. Request that your favorite retailer or supplier carry recycled content products. Seek a supplier who knows the facts about recycled content products and request samples. Don't accept "it's not available." Suppliers usually have extensive networks, and recycled content products are available in most categories.(ENN)
Have a sound grounding Horn
Earth Day, which has its origins in the U.S., will be celebrated by thousands of Americans with great fanfare on April 22. Being a holiday for most of them, they will either go out on a picnic, visit a fair, or maybe even organise a rally to celebrate Earth Day, founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson. Most are well-meaning citizens. Asians and others (the middle-class and the elite), who have access to the Internet and who are environment-conscious, will find their own ways of celebrating this day. Otherwise, Earth Day will be just another day to strike off the calendar. Most people in Asia, especially from developing countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, would remain largely unaware. They would be busy about their daily chores. A majority of these would care less, even if told it is Earth Day, because they have to work to earn their daily bread.

However, even in the U.S., while Earth Day does serve to promote environmental values, it also reveals the environmental movement's limitations, according to a political science professor at the University of Maine. "A number of environmental groups consider the holiday's very popularity to be its own undoing as corporate and business groups use Earth Day as an opportunity to define themselves as supportive of the environment," says Amy Fried. "The holiday has proved to be a mixed legacy reflecting the schisms permeating American environmentalism."

Fried, who is interested in how events such as Earth Day shape our politics, culture and values, surveyed staff members at 18 major environmental organisations. She asked them to describe their Earth Day activities, to discuss the political or educational nature of Earth Day, and to consider how Earth Day influences the way people view the environment. Her paper on the results of the survey is currently under review by the journal "Environmental Politics."

Most of the respondents agreed that Earth Day reinforces the importance of environmental education, which has become the most successful and enduring part of the 28-year-old holiday. Agreement, however, ended there, reflecting the philosophical differences among environmental groups. Some survey respondents suggested Earth Day has become a "feel good" media story, lacking "political clout." They criticised the emphasis on individual action -- recycling, driving fuel-efficient cars, using cloth grocery bags -- over collective, political action.

However, sharp differences centered on corporate sponsorship. Some groups criticised corporate funding as "greenwashing," while others viewed the practice as a legitimate means of raising funds for the environmental movement. A supporter of sponsorship wrote that if a corporation was moving to be green, it was fine. Many of today's corporate leaders participated in the first Earth Day in college; it turned them into environmentalists. If they try to coopt Earth Day, they'll just help spread environmental propaganda."

But an opponent of sponsorship countered, "Many times waste companies sponsor family events with entertainment, commercial enterprise books and exhibits to promote the idea that polluters are really protectors of the environment."

What we can do
  • Use public transport whenever possible
  • Separate garbage at source
  • Use plastic bags to a minimum
  • Increase your awareness about your environment
  • Avoid using chemical pesticides
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle
  • Reduce your paper consumption
  • Save water
All India Animal Welfare Association
Earth Day an everyday
World Environment Day

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