Earth Day 2012
Office of External Affairs

Eco Tips

  A volunteer plants marsh grass at Big Banch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana. Credit: Steve Hillebrand / USFWS
A volunteer plants marsh grass at Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana. Credit: Steve Hillebrand / USFWS

11) Family Tips
Are you and your family eco-friendly? There are lots of easy things you can do in your own homes, neighborhoods and at school every day to help save our earth, air and water. So, celebrate the Earth Day holiday by learning new ways to protect the environment together.

12) While at home

  • Don’t put hazardous substances down the drain or in the trash. Things like paint thinner, furniture polish, and antifreeze can pollute our water and land, impacting people as well as wildlife.
  • Keep litter, pet wastes and leaves out of street gutters and storm drains.
  • Recycle everything you can: newspapers, scrap papers, cans, glass, motor oil, plastics, appliances, etc.
  • Don’t leave water running. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or washing your face. Install water-saving devices, such as low-flow showerheads, to save water and save money.
  • Turn the lights and TV off when you leave a room. Use energy-efficient light bulbs.

13) In your community

  • Support natural areas and nature centers near you. Work with community members to maintain and restore habitat.
  • Walk, ride your bike, carpool or use public transportation. Organize litter cleanups and recycling drives.
  • Plant native trees and bushes with berries or nuts that provide birds and other creatures with food and a place to live.
  • At school, ask your teachers to help you organize clean-up days. Remove trash or invasive weeds from vacant lots or streams.

14) Going on vacation?

  • Turn the heat down and turn off the water heater before you leave your home.
  • Don’t pick flowers or collect wild creatures for pets. Leave animals and plants where you find them.
  • Going abroad? Think twice about the things you buy. Travelers don’t realize that several U.S. laws and an international treaty make it a crime to bring many wildlife souvenirs into our country.

15) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. Collecting used bottles, cans and newspapers and taking them to the curb or to a collection facility is just the first in a series of steps that generates a host of financial, environmental and social returns.

  • Reuse glass and plastic bottles as planters by filling them with dirt and planting herbs or vegetables for your own indoor garden. Large coffee cans, empty milk jugs, old clay planter pots and plastic buckets can all be used successfully as plant containers.
  • Newspaper can be used to wrap birthday gifts or crumple newspaper to create packaging material to keep items protected when shipping. Reuse plastic bags to line trashcans or to pick up pet waste. Avoid purchasing items that are over packaged.
  • Paper or Plastic? How about a reusable tote? They are inexpensive and help to reduce the production of plastic and paper bags. Opt for a reusable water bottle as opposed to one-time-use plastic bottles.

16) Prevent contaminants
Contaminants are any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter that has an adverse effect on air, water or soil. Contaminants enter the environment in many different ways like from disposal of municipal wastes, factory discharges and oil or chemical spills. In many cases, the origin of pollution may not be as clear. Pollutants can also be carried for long distances through the air and deposited on land and in water by rain.

17) Plant a tree
Arbor Day is a nationally-celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care. It’s celebrated on the last Friday in April. This year, celebrate Arbor Day on Friday, April 29, 2011, by planting a tree. Trees in your backyard and neighborhood can be home to many different types of wildlife. Trees can also reduce your heating and cooling costs, help clean the air, add beauty and color and provide shelter from the wind and the sun. Tree roots stabilize soil, prevent erosion and improve water quality by slowing and filtering rain water. Trees also play an important role in protecting fish habitat by offering shelter under streamside roots and branches and shade from the sun by cooling the water.

18) Create bird habitat
As you learn to enjoy the beauty of birdlife around their home, you may wish to improve the habitat in your yard so that more birds will visit your property. You can attract birds by placing bird feeders, nest boxes and bird baths in your yard, and by planting a variety of trees, shrubs and flowers. These can provide good nesting sites, winter shelter, places to hide from predators and natural food supplies that are available year-round. If you put out bird feeders, select a safe feeder and keep it clean. You should consider the location of the feeder, and whether you need to “squirrel proof.” Remember, a source of fresh water is especially important in the spring and summer. Bird baths will be used for both bathing and drinking.

19) Prevent invasive plants
Invasive plants displace naturally occurring vegetation and, in the process, upset nature’s balance and diversity. Helping to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive plants is the most effective way of protecting healthy, non-infested ecosystems. Here are just a few tips:

  • Ask for only non-invasive species when you acquire plants. Plant only environmentally safe species in your gardens. Work towards and promote new landscape design that is friendly to regional ecosystems.
  • Find information on which species are invasive in your area. Sources could include botanical gardens, horticulturists, conservationists and government agencies.
  • Remove invasive species from your land and replace them with non-invasive species suited to your site and needs.
  • Seek the best information on control of invasive plant species and organize neighborhood work groups to remove invasive plant species under the guidance of knowledgeable professionals.

20) Earth Day is Every Day
Celebrate Earth Day on April 22. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would like you to consider doing something to make a better planet for fish, wildlife and their habitat. Take action on Earth Day and every day by checking out our Web pages here featuring eco-tips, live podcasts and numerous ways to get involved. Can’t find an event near you? There’s plenty you can do at home, in your neighborhood, with your families and friends. Plant a tree, remove invasive plants, clean-up a beach...the opportunities are endless!

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Last updated: April 19, 2012
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