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Question of the Week: How has your life improved because of steps you and others have taken to protect the environment?

2010 April 5

2010 marks forty years since the first Earth Day and EPA’s creation. This week, we want to know how environmental protection has made a difference in your life. Whether it was a change you made at home, or an EPA project in your community, we want to hear your story. Be sure to check out our Earth Day Web site for ideas on how you can celebrate, participate and continue to make a difference!

How has your life improved because of steps you and others have taken to protect the environment?

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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47 Responses leave one →
  1. wade harter permalink
    April 5, 2010

    Last week I rode a tractor (up-o, I used a diesel engine tractor) for about 7 hours spreading manure on the cattle farm, decreasing the use for fertilizer. I also plowed my garden (up-o, I used a gasoline engine tiller) and spread horse manure on it, also decreasing the use for fertilizer. After this hard work, I started thinking that maybe I could better help the environment by reducing my consumption of food. This would reduce the volume of wastewater being discharged into our rivers and lakes.

  2. Patrick M. Murphy permalink
    April 5, 2010

    Since others (EPA) has taken the irresponsible and unjustified steps to regulate surface mining my life (and my family’s) has improved negatively. These so called steps to improve the environment have all but completely eliminated my career in the mining industry and thus created a great economical hardship on me and my family. Monies that were going to be there for my childrens college are now gone. Quality of life has decreased. I would like to thank Lisa Jackson and the EPA for this.

  3. Jim Jonas permalink
    April 5, 2010

    I am not sure if we have improved yet for when you buy new windows in the front of the house, money got tight to buy the back and sides.
    I have new washer, dryer, dishwasher paying so much money on the monthly expenses. We need credits on appliances that are not just the top of the line.Five years ago a new roof.
    I am in need of new doors all the way around and caulking the block house in were if we could afford stucco to cover cracks.Also solar and or geothermal air conditioning yes we all could be better it is a matter of money. All is willing jobs income all is willing.

  4. Heidi Maschmann permalink
    April 5, 2010

    My health has improved because I am now eating many more fresh vegetables from my garden each year vs processed, shipped food.

  5. Marleen Luckman permalink
    April 5, 2010

    My life has changed so much over the last few years in being conscious and informed about the products I buy for cleaning, personal care, and home furnishings. I make all my own cleaning products out of vinegar, baking soda, and other edible ingredients. They are effective in cleaning and are pleasant to use. We have achieved almost zero waste because I avoid buying processed foods (in packages) and we compost and recycle. It feels good to be diverting so much trash from the landfill. We also ride our bikes to work and around town and only use the car when we are traveling distances or it’s raining. These were all easy changes to make. We feel healthier and more empowered in doing out little share for the environment.

  6. Brenda permalink
    April 5, 2010

    About eight months ago my husband and I started a big effort to recycle cardboard, milk jugs, etc. We’ve found that by recycling, we are only filling our garbage can half-way each week. It was eye-opening to realize that half of our garbage had been recyclable materials. The recyclers is only a few blocks from where I work, so it’s easy for me to drop them off. I realize that not everyone lives where it is easy to recycle.

  7. murray mccory permalink
    April 5, 2010

    Our county has benefited from the grant supported recycling program implemented in 1990. We all have benefited from the growing local food markets. Even stores sells dried fruit products picked and made right here in Okanogan County. Because of a growing desire for more community trails, this will also help people with health issues.
    Efforts towards the consumption of regionally grown foods, walking on trails, and other regional dependency improvements are helping to reduce pollution. Regional economics lowers fuel consumption dramatically, by reducing the truck and airline hauling from all over the world.

  8. eileen permalink
    April 5, 2010

    We got rid of our car in July of 2006 and haven’t looked back. It is quite freeing. We ride transit, walk or bike. We buy less stuff because we get only as much as we can carry and it’s a little harder to get to the store so we go only when we need to.

  9. Mary Angela permalink
    April 5, 2010

    Everything I do to help the environment, even the smallest decision, makes me feel better

  10. armansyahardanis permalink
    April 5, 2010

    Ya, that’s right…… Sometimes I have acted like a teacher,…. of course negative. So, the way out, I do it myself and hopes my neighbor will change later.

  11. Alex permalink
    April 5, 2010

    Mountaintop removal (or surface) mining actually creates fewer jobs than traditional mining. You’d do better to be upset with Big Coal for switching to a process that uses less workers and ends up in fewer mountains. Specifically it was about 10,000 fewer workers from 1990 to 1997. I’d rather employ people than explosives.

  12. David McKay permalink
    April 5, 2010

    I am eliminating plastics from my life, a little at a time so I don’t go insane — starting with plastic grocery bags and plastic bottles. And I have been talking about it (started a blog, I twitter, post things on facebook, and talk to my friends and coworkers and the people in my community — find me if you want, but I won’t advertise here). It is quite amazing to see, when you actually open your eyes, the massive amounts of plastic we generate. I am not anti-plastic, per se, I am more pro-sustainability. I like being more conscious.
    Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse.

  13. Dave O permalink
    April 5, 2010

    Clean Water Act got rid of the nasty floaters that used to bog down our local waterway. Fish have come back and the water is much cleaner and easier for our local water works to treat for consumption. Yahoo, Clean Water!

  14. Jake Daniels permalink
    April 5, 2010

    We had a refrigerator in our office kitchen that was 15 years old. We replaced it when we got a good deal on a kenmore fridge. Our electric bill has reduced by $24/month!

    I as an employee took this initiative and I feel like I did something for the environment

  15. kristianna permalink
    April 5, 2010

    Enviornmentalism has been around for a long time, and I have since the sixties been a proponant of recycling and environmental issues. On a personal basis my life has improved due to steps that I have taken to improve the conditions of the planet that I llive on. I use less plastics and use recycable bags when grocery shopping. New York City is a easy city to live in with Metro, although a times it is a royal pain, it is a system that runs 24/7, and a person can get any where in the city using mass transit. If I lived in a cave where no one else exists my life whould be better, but I don’t live in a cave, or under a rock. My life has inproved by what I have done and my life has diminished due to what other have not done to improve the environment that we all live in.

  16. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    April 5, 2010

    I recycle paper, plastics and cans. Everyone in our complex does as well. The recycling dumpsters are now fuller than the regular trash dumpsters and we keep an eye that only recyclibles go into the recycling dumpsters. The people who live here really support the recycling program. But if someone does put something like unused paint or construction waste or electronic waste into the dumpsters and if they can be traced back, the homeowners association will levy a fine of $75.00. I am a member of the association’s Board of Directors and we levy those fines usually once a month and sometimes more often. If the person does not pay the $75.00 fine or explain why they should not have to to the satisfaction of the Board, the fine is doubled. Fine monies go into our reserve fund. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  17. Joanne McKechnie permalink
    April 5, 2010

    I have long been aware that conventional chemicals used in the home for cleaning are unsafe as we ingest, touch or breathe in the chemicals when in use. I have totally switched over to micro fibre cloths and water which eliminates chemicals and packaging. My children find it fun to help me to clean around the house and I do not have to worry that they or our dog will be exposed to anything harmful.

  18. john permalink
    April 6, 2010

    good idea!

  19. sharon permalink
    April 6, 2010

    In my little area of the world things look more livable, like a place one would want to live – keepin it rural.

  20. Al Bannet permalink
    April 6, 2010

    The discussions here have prompted me to further investigation and alalytical thinking so that my global view has expanded to include the Cosmos,of which we are a part.

  21. Al Bannet permalink
    April 6, 2010

    I replied to you, but it must have contained a buzz word, because it instantly disappeared.

  22. Norman Hines permalink
    April 6, 2010

    It is amazing how shortsighted so many americans like you are Patrick. What good is money and a college education if there is no clean water to drink or air to breathe? We are dangerously close to a tipping point where earth will become inhabitable for humans and well as animals and mountain top removal mining is a key factor in that. Do you want your kids to have a life worth living or a few extra dollars in their pockets?

  23. Norman Hines permalink
    April 6, 2010

    By becoming a vegetarian my life has improved in leaps and bounds as my health has improved. I now buy locally grown produce from organic farms in my area and by milk and yogurt made on organic farms from free ranging cows with no antibiotics or growth hormone. We also installed new windows and slider doors and new light fixtures and bulbs plus energy saving appliances that have saved us hundreds of dollars since last May and got us a hefty tax return as well. We donate money to a local land trust which buys up parcels of open space before developers can destroy them and have taken up hiking on the weekends instead of drives in the country saving gas and eliminating our emissions.

    Overall these steps have helped make our life better by improving our health and saving us money but still a great sadness exists because so many other americans do nothing or actually adversely effect the environment because they do not care!

  24. Norman Hines permalink
    April 6, 2010

    Certainly “keepin it rural” is a much better way to live but in my neck of the woods that is becoming a very difficult task. The beautiful farming town I grew up in became overdeveloped and infested with crime and drugs so I moved 40 miles to another rural area in CT but now that place is under constant pressure from politicians and developers alike to destroy it as well.

    We towns people have been able to hold off most development so far but every week it seems we are attacked with another challenge and even the politicians we voted in who ran on a platform of saving our town have turned on us and are trying to sneak development in under our noses with carefully worded proposals and of course the promise of lower taxes so how much longer can we continue to win under such enormous odds??

    Sadly I fear not long as “keepin it rural” is becoming harder and harder to do everyday in a country that has seemingly lost its way!

  25. Jim Adcock permalink
    April 6, 2010

    My life has improved since I switched out of denial mode and acknowledged that destruction of the planet–and my fellow human beings in poorer nations–caused by my, and other Americans, wonton wastefulness of fossil fuels and electrical energy. My European relatives live the same quality of life while consuming 1/2 as much energy! Now my family lives a little smaller, we light our house with a combination of CFLs and LEDs, we buy our electricity “100% green” — AND we save enough money from our conservation efforts that our energy utility bills are down by a third EVEN AFTER paying a premium to be “100% green!” It takes MORE emotional energy to live a life of denial that to admit the evil one does to the world and start taking steps to resolve those issues.

  26. Alexander Jimenez permalink
    April 6, 2010

    Ever since campus clean up has started i my school i feel alot better about my how clean my school looks.

  27. kimberly (wilson high school) permalink
    April 6, 2010

    My mom has recently insisted on making me walk to the places I want to go to instead of having her drive me to them and with that i feel better about myself. The fact that I won’t make my parents pollute is great and i also feel physically better too. (:

  28. Joshoa Alvarez permalink
    April 6, 2010

    My community has been a lot cleaner ever since I started cleaning up after myself. I have used less water \ and reduced the amount of water I use a day. Which me feel better about myself. The things that I learned in my environmental class have been steps for me to decrease the amount of pollution in my community. Like air polluton.

  29. G.M. WHS permalink
    April 6, 2010

    The Things i have learned in my environmental class has helped me and my family’s life by saving us money due to reducing, reusing and recycling.

  30. ears !whs! permalink
    April 6, 2010

    i have felt more comfortable at school because of the campus clean ups and i have done some community cleaning around my block and my neieborhood so my life seems more progressvise! and accomlished.. :)

  31. Gaby (whs) permalink
    April 6, 2010

    I eat healthier now like fruits that are grown naturally instead of other things that cause a problem to the environment such as a bag of chips. I reduce, reuse, and recycle. The trash is organized now, I let my clothes air-dry instead of using the dryer, I turn off things that aren’t in use which lowers the cost of my electricity bill. I have better knowledge about what may be harming the environment and i feel good about that because now, I think before I do.

  32. W.E. permalink
    April 6, 2010

    Ever since my parents have replaced the regular light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs they are happier since the electrical bill has gone down.

  33. DeniseTorreswhs permalink
    April 6, 2010

    The things that I’ve learned in my environmental law class have helped my knowledge and understanding of the world around me and how there are many things we can do to protect it.

  34. c.r permalink
    April 6, 2010

    my clean area has changed my life because im used to having alot of trash around my apartment complex..and i can play outside now without geting dirty! :D

  35. Bonnie Aylor permalink
    April 6, 2010

    Hmmm, interesting question! Mostly, I grew up in a school that used the Manatee as a mascot, back when there were adopt-a-manatee programs and they first went on the endangered species list, and that gained awards for beautification while the students had a special class once a week in which they went around and cleaned up the campus. My mom was an accountant so she was also very environmentally conscious in the name of saving money and budgeting. She also had many allergies and needed to take environmental precautions in order to stabilize them. I used to play in the creek with the tadpoles and minnows, at the sand dunes looking for quartz rocks, in the woods climbing the trees (even the “devil” tree which was easy to climb but hard to get out of afterwards! :D) and purposely getting lost so I’d be forced to find my way out, running through fox tunnels, paying attention to my girl scout lesson about poison ivy and other species, and so on and so forth. Therefore, environmentalism really hasn’t been a life changing thing for me, its just always been my lifestyle.

    However, I did learn about the manatee when they were endangered and the only manatee’s that you could see in regular places, or even in captivity, were manatees with scars, and scratches, rough skins, burns, and boat marks on them. I had always thought that was just what a manatee looks like. Since they’ve been off the list and considered officially recovered, I’ve seen a few of what the manatees look like now. It’s emotional to see what they look like when you see them how the “creator” planned them to be, smooth skin, bright blue-grey, gorgeous creatures! It brings tearful, joyful, emotional tears to my eyes and I cannot help to cry. It also gives me relief, and confidence that there are measures that can be taken to help our environment, and people listen.

  36. gennie permalink
    April 7, 2010

    clean air act, no smoking is the best environment solutions because this prevents my family from having an asthma


  37. gennie permalink
    April 7, 2010

    this is also a great solution =) keep it up

  38. Chris S permalink
    April 7, 2010

    I could be flippant and say that my life is better because I have a good job in a state environmental agency… even with the state economic woes.
    but I clearly remember being distressed by the first Earth Day and its emphasis on “cleaning up” the environment. The environment doesn’t need to be “clean” – it needs to be healthy. big difference.
    In the 1960’s there was Lady Bird Johnson’s Keep America Beautiful aimed at picking up roadside trash. All well and good… but instead of leading into reduction of waste – it turned landfills into mega big business. out of sight out of mind mentality has allowed us to blissfully ignore the fact that we are too wasteful.
    if manufacturers were required by law to either reduce the ammount of packaging they produce or else be forced to recycle it themselves, things would be so much better. But they produce huge packages for tiny items to prevent theft instead of hiring enough people to serve the public. keep small items under lock & key like they do cigarettes and restricted medicines.
    drive through any suburban area on trash day and you will see incredible waste… including perfectly good items being tossed rather than given to charity. sickening….

  39. danschre permalink
    April 7, 2010

    I think that in many ways protecting the environment has not improved my life per se but in fact preserved many things I love about life. I tend to love being outdoors and doing activities in my spare time that involve the outdoors. By becoming a more environmentally sustainable society we are ensuring that future generations will still be able to enjoy the joys of nature like I do. The whole concept of considering economic impacts when debating an environmental issue really makes no sense to me. You cannot put a dollar amount on the planets natural resources because once they are gone that is it. I would rather the United States become a world leader in environmental sustainability rather than overall GDP. If we lead by example more countries will follow and the planets overall health will improve and so will quality of life.

  40. David Lynch permalink
    April 12, 2010

    I feel at least my wife and l feel good about what we are doing for the environment.Its made us feel good about ourselves and our contribution in trying to make the world a cleaner and preserved and cared for as we go into the future.So in one instant its filled us with an achievement aspect but then on the other side of the coin it can leave feeling a little frustrated and despondent when we see people still littering and not caring about our environment one iota.We must band altogether all countries and all nations if where going to make the impact and reverse the damage we have already done to this beautiful planet of ours.So to answer the question there is no doubt that it has impacted our lives,and l would say for the better because if we all took the attitude what difference would l make we couldn’t enjoy what we do have at present by the people who do care.

  41. Martine permalink
    April 12, 2010

    The fact that I am composting, reducing energy uses at home, cutting back on a lot of unecessary material, not using any chemical in the garden nor to clean the house and eating as local as possible, make our life simpler and healthier. My daughter is 5 years old and she will carry that life sytle into her adulthood hopefully. :)

  42. Julia permalink
    April 12, 2010

    My apartment building received 3 million dollars in government money to “green the building”. They are putting in new windows, a new roof, low flush toilets and low emission carpeting. I hope they recycle the old stuff – though I think that would be a monumental task.

  43. Alfalfa permalink
    June 18, 2010

    Don’t be ridiculous. Almost everything the EPA has done has had a negative effect on my life and my pocketbook…and most of it has not even accomplished what they said it would.

    The best thing would be for the EPA to be eliminated.

    Say, what is your annual budget and how many people are employed by the EPA?

  44. Sandra Etinghouse permalink
    October 20, 2010

    I try to buy green products wherever I can and have been trying to make them but I’m curious as to why there are so few recipe’s around when everyone claims to be “going green”. The last few years have also seen dramatic changes in my life about the product I buy (although how much is just “hype” I don’t know). Change doesn’t happen fast and it’s good we’re at least facing these issues instead of hiding from the as was the case a few years ago.

  45. Sandra Ethinghouse permalink
    October 20, 2010

    {Dear Moderator/forum readers I must apologize for typographical errors in my previous post – may I please request that you delete my first post and replace it with this on? Thankyou…}

    I try to buy green products wherever I can and have been trying to make them but I’m curious as to why there are so few recipe’s around when everyone claims to be “going green”. The last few years have also seen dramatic changes in my life about the product I buy (although how much is just “hype” I don’t know). Change doesn’t happen fast and it’s good we’re at least facing these issues instead of hiding from the as was the case a few years ago.

    Best regards,

  46. Justin permalink
    December 14, 2010

    I don’t know of anything specific that has improved because of the EPA, however, I know that my education from (probably the EPA) has caused me to buy more organic food and eat more fresh, locally grown produce. That step alone has surely improved my health.

  47. Gamesden permalink
    February 16, 2011

    My community has been a lot cleaner ever since I started cleaning up after myself. I have used less water \ and reduced the amount of water I use a day.

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