An Earth-felt invitation - Earth Day 2013

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  • 374th Civil Engineer Squadron Environmental Office
Earth Day began 43 years ago in 1970. It was an invitation from the United States to the rest of the world to bring people together and organize solutions to the environmental issues that affected our future. America extended an invitation for others to join, and the world accepted.

Now Earth Day reaches beyond cultures, politics, religions and nationalities, and April 22 each year, Earth is celebrated around the world. People come together and contribute to a common, healthy purpose.

This year's Earth Day theme is "Conserve Today - Secure Tomorrow" with a focus on water management and conservation. Not only is 2013 a very appropriate and important time to save Department of Defense dollars through conservation, it is also a good opportunity to learn a little about waste water systems, and to understand what resources are at risk if people are not careful.

By using just a few water-saving ideas, together people can make a huge difference. It only takes a small effort to save big. An average household that practices water conservation can save as much as 44,000 gallons per year! Here are a few easy ways to make that happen:

 Run washers and dishwasher only when they are full. This step alone can save up to 1,000 gallons of water a month!
 If washing dishes by hand, don't let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
 Collect water used for rinsing fruits and vegetables, and reuse it to water houseplants.
 Shorten showers by a minute or two and save up to 150 gallons of water per month.
 When running a bath, plug the tub before turning the water on and adjust the temperature as the tub fills.
 Turn off the water while brushing teeth and while shaving and save 300 gallons a month!
 Don't use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator for water efficiency and food safety.
 Make sure there are water-saving aerators on faucets.
 Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks.
 Tell your friends what you are doing to conserve and encourage them to do the same.

Water management also includes protecting water resources. It is very important that everyone is careful about the quality of the water they discard each day. Waste water at Yokota ends up in the local streams and rivers. Permanent Change of Station moves are a good example of where care needs to be taken. Service members are recommended to give left over cleaning supplies, paints and other chemical products to a neighbor, colleague or the self help store for reuse. Never throw chemicals in the regular trash, or pour them down the drain.

Changing old habits to accommodate conservation measures is not hard, especially if people unite in their efforts. More and more people are taking small measures that are adding up. Many are diligently recycling, using cloth bags when they shop and even finding ways to reuse items that might otherwise be thrown away.

The youth at Yokota are taking action as well. 8th grade students at the base middle school are engaged in a school-wide push to actively recycle and reduce the amount of paper that is used and discarded daily. A rigorous campaign has led to the successful reduction of white paper waste by 50 percent and an overall reduction of about 25 percent in total refuse removed each day! If everyone followed this example, imagine what could be done base-wide in reducing waste, conserving water and protecting the environment.

These positive actions taken by the Yokota youth is an invitation to the rest of the community to step up their efforts in conserving resources. As more people put forth an effort toward this goal, others will understand the importance and join in. Everyone wants a healthier future. Let's make Earth Day a part of everyday.

If you have questions or need assistance, call the 374 Civil Engineer Squadron Environmental Office at 225-5440.