As the first signs of spring awaken our senses, we are reminded of just how amazing nature is. But nature can be ruthless too, and as we start to see more extreme weather events, including more frequent and powerful hurricanes, intense wildfires, and widespread flooding, it appears that climate change is already upon us and nature needs our help.

Back in 1970, US Senator Gaylord Nelson, called Americans to take a stand for the environment and thousands of colleges and universities across the United States organized protests for a healthy, sustainable Earth. By the end of that year, the government had formed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). From that time onwards, April 22 was picked as the annual date to celebrate Earth Day, and by 1990, Earth Day was celebrated by over 142 countries globally. In 2009, the United Nations officially named it “International Mother Earth Day” and it’s no coincidence that on Earth Day in 2016, the landmark climate protection treaty, the Paris Agreement, was signed. On Earth Day around the world, events and overall awareness campaigns mark the day, but everyone can help make a difference.

So how can we do our little bit to help the environment? Here are just a few ideas – perhaps pick one to honor Earth Day this year!

  • Recycle and repurpose. Click here to learn more about Darien’s Recycling and Refuse Center and Swap Shop located at 126 Ledge Road, including hours of operation and how and what to recycle. A Recycling Center permit is required, but all seniors 65 and over are entitled to one FREE permit per household and may apply by mail (click here for the form) or in person at the Department of Public Works at Town Hall.
  • Reduce your food waste. Do you throw lots of leftovers away? Plan your shopping list with meal menus in mind and buy only what you will use. Manage a shared grocery list and transfer recipe ingredients to your list through apps such as Cozi (it’s free!).
  • Compost the food waste you do have. Did you know that Darien’s Recycling and Refuse Center has a food scrap recycling program and free leaf compost for permit holders? Collect your food scraps in a small container that will fit under the sink, and transfer to a larger container for weekly storage that you can later take to the Recycling Center. Be sure to only use compostable bags if lining the containers. Bring a bucket and shovel and help yourself to the free leaf compost piled just beyond the scale house!
  • Reduce plastic waste. Remember to bring your reusable shopping bags to all stores, not just to supermarkets, and why not invest in a reusable metal water container; not only is it sustainable but it will save you money and keep your water cooler too!
  • Save energy. Turn the lights off when you leave a room, and when it’s time to replace your incandescent light bulbs, consider buying energy efficient LED bulbs instead (which also last longer!). Make sure you replace your incandescent bulb with a comparable LED that will match the performance of the previous bulb.
  • Remember to unplug your TV, computers, monitors and printers, rechargeable devices, and countertop kitchen appliances before going on vacation – electronic devices plugged in on “standby” mode can account for over 5% of a household’s energy use.
  • Use the internet not trees. Consider online bill receipt and payment (and save on stamps!).
  • Plant native plants in your yard. Not only do native plants preserve biodiversity and encourage pollinators, they’re also more adapted to the environment and use less water. Don’t forget to check out the DCA’s annual plant sale on Friday May 6 which includes a section of native plant species.