Written by Jenny Smiechowski, staff writer for The Birches
On April 22, 1970, 20 million people from colleges, universities, elementary schools, high schools and communities across the U.S. banded together to show their support for environmental protection and create a new holiday—Earth Day.
Today, nearly 50 years later, we’re still celebrating Earth Day. But more and more people are embracing an environmentally-conscious mindset other days of the year too. That includes us here at The Birches.
Over the past 19 years, we’ve continuously found new ways to be more environmentally-responsible—and we hope to find more in the years to come.
If you’re interested in becoming more Earth-friendly too, here are a few things we’re doing that you can try at home:
1. Keep bees or support your local beekeepers.
You’ve probably heard that honeybee populations are declining at an alarming pace. Since honeybees pollinate the plants that feed other wildlife and humans, the loss of honeybees has a devastating effect on our ecosystem. That’s why beekeeping has become a more important hobby than ever. By keeping one hive of bees, you can introduce as many as 50,000 pollinators into a suburban or urban area. The Birches has kept several hives on-site for the past few years. But if beekeeping isn’t up your alley, you can still do your part to support bee populations by installing a small mason bee shelter, planting bee friendly plants, adding a small bee bath for a fresh water source and trying to reduce the chemicals used in your gardens. You can also support local beekeepers by buying their honey, so they can continue to contribute pollinators to our community.
2. Create a Certified Wildlife Habitat
Last year, The Birches turned its garden space into a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation. To become a Certified Wildlife Habitat, you need to plant native plants that act as food sources for local wildlife, provide a source of water for wildlife, include a source of cover for wildlife, offer places for wildlife to care for their young and use sustainable gardening practices. Here’s a checklist from the National Wildlife Federation that can help you transform your garden into a Certified Wildlife Habitat.
3. Go Local
Within the past few years, The Birches Director of Dining Services Diana Subacuis has started getting more of the food that’s served to Birches residents from local farms. Choosing local food decreases your carbon footprint, because energy isn’t wasted transporting the food across the country (or world). As an added bonus, local food is fresher, healthier and tastes better. You can find local produce in some grocery stores, but your best bet is to go to a farmers market or join a local farmer’s Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) group. If you like gardening, you can also start a small vegetable garden in your yard. We do that at The Birches. That’s as local as it gets!
These are just a few ways you can do your part for the environment this Earth Day and beyond. There are plenty more. Here at The Birches, we also keep three chickens and started a recycling program a few years ago. Every earth-friendly action you take counts, even if it’s just putting a soda can in the recycling bin, buying apples from Illinois instead of Washington or adding a few native plants to your garden. Enjoy your Earth Day!
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