There's so much going on in the GreenSphere that I thought I'd walk my own talk and make it easy: I'm simply listing the Top 5 things I've found buzzing around the intertubes today that when added, followed, read, and/or acted upon, will indeed make a difference to the earth. Each will take less than 120 seconds each, I promise, yet the effects will be long-lasting.
1) Add the "Every Day is Earth Day" Application to your facebook profile and the company Cooler, Inc. will offset 5 lbs of carbon emissions for each user that adds the app. The goal is to reach 20,000 user adds for a total of 100,000 lbs of offset carbon emissions by Earth Day, April 22! Check it out: http://apps.facebook.com/gengreenearthday/ The app will also deliver daily tips that you can utilize to decrease the environmental impact of your daily routine in a small but significant way. 1620 lbs have already been offset and the app was just released today! Remember to invite your friends!
2) Determine your carbon footprint with the Carbon Calculator at Al Gore's www.climatecrisis.net. When I saw An Inconvenient Truth years ago, the first thing I did after the movie ended was calculate my carbon footprint (I don't own a car but I fly medium to long-haul trips, on average, twice a month - travel is both my life and my vice). I'm not sure how many people even know what "carbon footprint" means, let alone are consciously aware of how they contribute daily to global warming. The carbon dioxide we all produce by driving and leaving the lights on adds up quickly. You may be surprised by how much Co2 you are emitting each year - I was; I thought I was doing great never driving and being energy efficient in my home! Calculate your personal impact and learn how you can take action to reduce or even eliminate your emissions of carbon dioxide.
3) Offset your carbon footprint: (What does that mean?) Well, it means donating money, usually... programs can differ and you never fully know what your money is going towards in this relatively new not-for-profit enterprise. Thus, caveat emptor reigns... however, I've done a bunch of research and can fully recommend The Nature Conservancy's program: Climate Change - Carbon Offset Program There is an easy to use carbon calculator on the site, suggested voluntary donation amounts per carbon use, and contributions to the voluntary carbon offset program help "fund projects that are specifically designed to capture and store carbon and thus, help reduce the build up of greenhouse gases that are causing climate change. Contributions will be used to set aside land, provide funding for forest conservation, plant trees and measure and verify the amount of carbon captured and stored over the next 70 years, by when the forest will have matured." I try to contribute each time I fly somewhere.
4) Sign up to volunteer at/support the Green Apple Festival (April 17-19) for Earth Day. Earth Day Network and Green Apple Festival's 2009 plans include simultaneous events in ten US cities (New York, Boston, Washington DC, Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Austin, LA, San Francisco) over Earth Day Weekend that will focus on environmental volunteerism. The service events will be coupled with Earth Day on the National Mall in Washington, DC and free “Thank You” concerts for volunteers in each city. Activities will focus on climate change solutions like tree planting, energy efficiency retrofits, water protection, urban gardens and forest restoration in local parks, beaches, forests, and schools. See http://www.greenapplemusicfestival.com/ for more info.
5) Eliminate the need for plastic bags: Bring your own bag! Take a second and throw a crushable tote (the kind Whole Foods sells, for example, or any cotton bag) into your backpack, bookbag, purse, car, briefcase and just say "no" to plastic AND paper. If you ever needed a reason to reduce or eliminate your plastic bag consumption, just remember this: 1/3 of currently endangered leatherback turtles have been found to have plastic in their digestive systems, because their main source of nutrition is jellyfish (easily confused with plastic). The thought of these amazing creatures ingesting plastic unwittingly thinking it's a reliable food source just about makes me want to cry. See the following report on Treehugger for more information.