By Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist
We live in challenging times. The economy continues to limp along in a slow recovery from the Great Recession, brought to us by corporate greed.
Because tax revenues are down, conservatives are leading a charge to cut the size of government – and with these reductions come the elimination of valuable government programs. Unfortunately, rhetoric from the right is capturing the public’s attention.
Just this week, we marked the first anniversary of the Gulf Oil Spill. In Japan, a cluster of damaged nuclear power plants continues to spew radiation into the air and sea daily.
You’d think environmental issues would be rising on our list of public interest priorities. Instead, they’re being overshadowed with deficit debates and another war.
What can consumers do to help the environment? My advice is to join a consumer group and take action to protect the environment.
Here are groups I think are worthwhile:
The Environmental Working Group – The EWG researches issues and tells consumers things they wouldn’t know otherwise. I appreciated their research on cell phone radiation. I’ve put off buying a smartphone until Verizon Wireless produces a phone that emits low levels of radiation.
The Sierra Club – Since 1892, the Sierra Club has been working to protect communities, wild places, and the planet. It’s the largest environmental organization in the United States with 1.4 million members. Local chapters throughout the U.S. offer opportunities for hikes and other outings and action on local and state issues.
Earthjustice – The group’s slogan is, “Because the earth needs a good lawyer.” The public interest law firm works to protect natural resources and wildlife and to defend the right of all people to a healthy environment.
National Resources Defense Council – The NRDC’s priorities are establishing a clean energy future that curbs climate change, reviving the world's oceans, defending endangered wildlife and wild places, protecting health by preventing pollution, fostering sustainable communities, and ensuring safe and sufficient water.
Friends of the Earth – The group’s current campaigns focus on promoting clean energy and solutions to climate change, keeping toxic and risky technologies out of the food consumers eat and products they use, and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who live and work near them.
Environmental Defense Fund – The EDF works on stabilizing climate, improving the health of the ocean, supporting people and wildlife by preserving land and freshwater ecosystems, protecting health by studying air pollution and chemicals that effect health.
National Audubon Society – The society works to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humans and the earth's biological diversity.
Earth Island Institute – Earth Island acts as an umbrella organization, providing individual projects with the freedom to develop new initiatives by offering professional services, from fiscal administration and program management to office space and equipment.
Greenpeace International – Greenpeace takes action to protect the oceans and forests, eliminate the use of harmful chemicals, and transition to a world powered by clean and unlimited energy sources like the wind and sun.
Washington Toxics Coalition – This is the group I contact when I want to find out about harmful chemicals. The coalition’s website offers tips on healthy living, including suggestions for less toxic products to clean your home, safer products for children, and pesticide free food.
For other Earth Day tips, see my article, “Top 10 Earth Day Tips.”