Every Day is Earth Day - an essay by Gabriella Chu

The following essay is republished with the permission of Gabriella Chu of the East-West School of International Studies in New York. Gabriella shared this excellent piece live during Earthcast 2009. The recorded audio will be added to this post as soon as it is edited.
Every day is Earth Day
      There are many ways to help conserve and protect our environment. Instead of polluting it, we can do simple everyday practices to help and protect the Earth. If everyone contributed a little in our society, the world would become a better place because that would add up to a large product. In order to get this result, we have to take action and this may start as simple as in your own home. To do so, I’ve written healthy alternatives for customs that are not good for the environment.
      One easy way we can conserve daily is by using tap water instead of bottled water. Not only does this save your money, but it helps the environment too. For example, bottled water trucked cross-country burns fossil fuels, and according to the environmental nonprofit Pacific Institute, bottled water released 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2006. Tap water is checked by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for contaminants to make sure that the water is safe to drink, and bottled water is checked by the Food and Drug Administration. Both tap water and bottled water are healthy but tap water does not burn fossil fuels, so it prevents having a harmful effect on the environment. In addition, eight out of ten water bottles end up in a landfill or an incinerator which is where waste disposal is buried in layers of dirt, so it is best to use tap water. 
      In addition to using tap water, you might be wondering whether to use a plastic bottle or a stainless steel bottle when you’re traveling. According to the New York Times, the production of a stainless steel bottle involves more than 1,400 steps, each having an impact on the environment. The extraction process of stainless steel requires a huge amount of fossil fuel and releases greenhouse gases and toxic material into the soil, air, and water. Manufacturing stainless steel can also have a big environmental and health impact. Distributing the stainless steel bottle also uses oil and energy, and green house gases are released. The good side of this process is that it only adds up from 1 percent to 5 percent of the environmental damage. Thus, one stainless steel bottle is obviously more harmful to the Earth than one plastic bottle. However, if you use a plastic bottle, there is a high chance of you keep throwing away the bottle and buying a new one. This is not good for the environment at all. Stainless steel lasts forever, so if you’re going to keep using a water bottle it’s best to use a stainless steel one, but if you’re only going to be using a water bottle once or not many times, using a plastic bottle is a better option.
      Another way we can help the Earth is by reducing fuel consumption. We can do this by biking or walking instead of using the car. Walking costs no money and it also makes you exercise which is good for your body. Using a car on the other hand, releases carbon dioxide. According to EarthSky Communications Inc., a car in the U.S. on average gives out 7,700 kg of carbon dioxide a year. Carbon Dioxide is bad for the environment because if we release too much of it into the atmosphere, it magnifies the sun’s rays when they shine through the ozone layer and that leads to the Earth is getting warmer.
      Beauty products can also be harmful to the environment. For example, aerosol hair sprays contain CFC’s (chloro fluoro carbon). Every time you spray your hair, the gas is released to the atmosphere and then the estratosphere, where the CFC’s destroy the ozone layer. UV radiation can cause skin cancer and since the ozone layer helps block UV radiation, the Earth gets warmer and that causes many problems such as plants dying or people getting cancer. If it is necessary for you to use hairspray, don’t use aerosol cans.
      A few other simple tips to go green that can be used daily are to write on both sides of a page, instead of using two pages. According to Green Guide magazine, Americans use 5.4 million tons of office paper every year. By printing single-spaced and on both sides, you use four times less paper. Another way you can conserve is by printing movie tickets from your computer instead of using movie tickets at the theater. Movie tickets printed at home are easier to recycle than the material that is used to make movie tickets at the theater. You can also conserve by turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth. Letting the faucet run for two minutes can waste as much as 4.4 gallons of water. Filling a glass with water to rinse your brush and your mouth is a better alternative.
In conclusion, everyone can help improve the Earth’s condition by using tap water instead of bottled water, being cautious when using a plastic or stainless steel bottle, biking or walking instead of using the car, not using aerosol hairspray cans, using both sides of the page when writing, printing movie tickets at your home instead of using the ones at the theater, and turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth. If everyone participated and used healthy alternatives instead of harming the Earth, we could drastically improve the Earth’s condition and have a better environment.