Earth Day Opinion/Editorial (655 words)
There are many shades of green
Tom Burack, New Hampshire Department of
Environmental Services Commissioner
Do you recall Kermit the Frog lamenting in song that “it’s not easy being green”? As we prepare to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, there seems to be some truth to Kermit’s lyrics that green seems to “blend in with so many other ordinary things.” But I disagree with Kermit that people are passing over the green message because it doesn’t stand out. On the contrary, I would argue that being green has been woven into our daily lives, and taking actions that are beneficial to our environment is accepted and encouraged, and is helping to create a better future. This is certainly in stark contrast to the state of our environment on that first Earth Day in 1970.
For many of us being green is a personal choice because of a connection we have to the earth. As Kermit also mentions in his song, “green is the color of spring … green can be big like a mountain or important like a river or tall like a tree.” In fact, one of the ways that I connect with the environment is hiking and skiing the many mountains of our state with my family. How do you connect with the environment? Do you enjoy the mountains, lakes, forests or seashore? Perhaps you could reconnect with the earth by visiting one or more of the 67 state parks around New Hampshire. They offer an abundance of opportunities to explore the diverse and scenic environment of our beautiful state. A good place to learn more about our state parks can be found online at www.nhstateparks.org.
For others, being green could be as simple as the fact that green is the color of money and connecting to the environment is a cost-saving matter. Businesses, municipalities and individuals alike can all save money by making cost-effective, green choices. And without meaning to sound cynical, it is probably this economic connection that has helped the green movement of this generation succeed where past efforts have failed.
To keep a little more green in my wallet, I have taken steps in my own home to reduce my expenses for electricity, heating and cooling. A key point that I have come to learn is that neglect of regular maintenance on our heating systems can really add to our expenses. Did you know that as much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling? Yearly tune ups, changing air filters and using programmable thermostats deliver guaranteed cost savings to you and benefit our environment via pollution prevention – less pollution created by you and your heating system.
In addition to a healthy heating system, there has never been a better time to invest in the energy efficiency of your home. Through the end of this year, for every $10 you spend on qualified energy efficient windows, doors and insulation, the federal government will give you $3 back in the form of a tax credit. This program can certainly benefit many of the older homes that we have here in New Hampshire, so if you haven’t taken advantage of this program yet, I strongly encourage you to do so.
While I would suggest that even the “greenest” of us can do more for our environment, we should not spend our days wondering if green is the right thing to be, but instead realize that it is great to be green, and that each green act, whether it is a conscious one or not, can make a positive difference in our lives and for our environment. Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22nd, but there is no reason why we can’t celebrate Earth Day every day by being green in our own particular way. Despite what Kermit may say, it’s actually very easy to leave a better, greener earth for those who will come after us.
Tom Burack, Commissioner of the NH Dept. of Environmental Services
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