Being green might seem like a new fad, but it’s not – not by a long shot. For instance, the first Earth Day was celebrated before unleaded gasoline, before recycling, before the ban of DDT and before lead-free paint. In fact, partying for Mother Earth can be traced back much further than April 22, 1970. And, environmentalism as a whole predates today’s “movement” by more than 4,000 years.
So, in honor of the 43rd Earth Day, and as a nod to all our ancient Green Your Home educators and fans, here are three eco-conscious trends that have sustained history and nine ways you can help extend the timeline.
I. Help the green grow
In the beginning – and we mean the start of recorded history – deforestation was all the rage in Mesopotamia. Now mostly desert, southern Mesopotamia was once covered in cedar trees. The Epic of Gilgamesh, written before the second millennium B.C., tells of the mass destruction of these forests. A few hundred years later, famed King Hammurabi completely stopped the trade of timber in the region in order to conserve the remaining trees.
Today, amendments to the Lacey Act of 1900 regulate the trade of illegal plants and wildlife, including the world’s first ban on illegal logging, which had a dramatic effect on the flooring industry.
What can you do?
1. Analyze your flooring options. All categories today offer a green aspect. Use the chart above from Green Your Home to weigh the pros and cons, and make an eco-informed decision (see Figure 1).
2. Plant a tree. As we shared in a recent post, not only do trees provide oxygen, shade, scenery and insulation, they also up the value of your property.
3. Landscape for your climate. Always aim for a sustainable landscape by: 1. Having a plan. 2. Knowing your soil. 3. Effectively irrigating. 4. Planting appropriate species.
II. Keep water clean and plentiful.
The ancient Mediterranean population was poisoned from water running through lead pipes. The deadly effects of lead were documented by a Greek physician as early as 200 B.C., but lead remained in use for many years after. In the early part of the first century, the Roman Senate created some of the first laws protecting water during the driest seasons while, in 1388, British Parliament made the very first ban on waste in public waterways. Finally, in 1986, the United States amended their Safe Drinking Water Act to ban the use of lead water pipes and set standards for almost 100 contaminants.
What can you do?
4. Collect and reuse rainwater. Investing in a rainwater collection system on the front end will save you beaucoup bucks with regards to landscaping and gardening (see Figure 2).
5. Take a shower. Baths can require more than twice the water of the average shower.
6. Buy a Brita. You don’t have to buy bottled water for drinking. The majority of Brita and similar water filtration products today reduce limescale, chlorine, lead, copper and pesticides, while improving taste.
III. Make every breath count. Coal mining is a huge part of our history, but healthier methods for burning coal did not appear until the Middle Ages. By the early 14th century, so much coal was burned in London that King Edward I made a royal proclamation banning the burning of coal. In 1661, John Evelyn publicized the earliest known essay on air pollution and proposed remedies, like moving coal-burning enterprises out of the city, to make London a healthier place. In America, Benjamin Franklin petitioned the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1739 to stop waste dumping due to foul smell, disease and the devaluation of property.
In addition, the last 50 years of the 20th century included many laws to help keep our air healthy and clean. The Clean Air Act, for instance, was passed by Congress in 1963, and emissions standards were set in all states, starting with California in 1959.
What can you do?
7. Optimize your aeration. Consider installing a whole-house ventilation system. Not only will it improve your home’s air quality and your family’s health, but it will also up your pocket change upon selling (see Figure 3).
8. Go organic. Limit the use of toxic chemicals used in your outdoor zone. Nowadays, there is an organic equal to almost every chemical-based product. Use poisonous products only as a last result.
9. Dry it out. Protect yourself from mold. Make sure you don’t have an existing problem, and control moisture sources to keep mold from developing.