How I Honor Earth Day Every Day As a Person Who Is Blind
by Empish J. Thomas
Editor's note: April 22 is Earth Day. Each year, Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Growing out of the first Earth Day, the Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement working with more than 50,000 partners in nearly 195 countries to build environmental democracy; 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. In honor of this milestone, Earth Day Network is launching a set of goals to shape the future of 21st century environmentalism.
"Waste Not, Want Not"
From the time I was a little girl, I was aware of the importance of not being wasteful and recycling. My parents and grandparents would reuse old household items. Things like jelly jars would easily substitute as drinking glasses. Old brown paper grocery bags would be reused to cover my school paperback books to keep them from damage. My parents would also take bags of old clothes and furniture to donate them to nonprofits like Goodwill and the Salvation Army. So, as we get ready to celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd, I reflect on my childhood. I realized that I still practice many of these things and more. But instead of observing one day annually, I honor Earth Day every day. I feel it is important that I do what I can to protect the planet that I live on. I know that I can’t do everything, but I can do somethings. I don’t allow my visual disability to stop me from participating in this significant event. So, you might be thinking what can you do to help the planet? How can a visually impaired person fully participate in honoring Earth Day every day? You have asked the right questions to the right person. I encourage you to check out my list of things I do as part of my life routine.
My Checklist for Recycling
I participate in my county recycling program. A couple of years ago, my county launched a recycling program that was free. I received a flyer in my water bill and signed up immediately. What I got was a box of blue recycle bags for plastic bottles, metal cans, and glass jars. I also got a blue storage container for paper, like junk mail, newspapers, cardboard, and other paper materials. I have labeled these for easy identification. From time-to-time, I even shred confidential documents like medical records, credit card, and bank statements and place them in the blue recycle bags. When my bag or storage container fills up, I take them to my driveway, and they are picked up by my county’s sanitation department.
I use cloth earth bags for grocery shopping. These bags work better than the plastic ones that you get in the store. Plastic bags are filling our landfills and don’t decompose well. When I use my cloth earth bags, I have a lot more room for my purchases, and I can use them over and over again. I even have a couple with insulation for when I get refrigerated or frozen foods, and it keeps the food cold until I get it home. I keep them handy by hanging them on the door knob of my pantry door in my kitchen, so they are always ready to go when I leave for shopping. Using earth bags greatly reduces the amount of plastic that I consume thus helping the planet.
I take old computers and electronics to a recycle center. I don’t place these items in the trash. Taking items like this to a recycle center is better because they will be properly disposed of. Just be sure with computers you clean off your hard drive first.
For electronics related to vision loss, I do things a little differently. In the past, I have sold old assistive technology devices instead of throwing them away or letting them collect dust. Items like old talking dictionaries, Victor Readers, CCTVs (video magnifiers) and braille note takers sometimes can still be used again by persons who are blind or visually impaired. If they can’t be sold, depending on their condition, they can be donated to a vision rehabilitation center. I have also given my old white canes and cane parts to a local orientation and mobility instructor who takes my donations and uses them for people who can’t afford a white cane.
When it comes to old clothes, I donate to a couple of nonprofits. Professional clothes such as blouses, skirts, slacks, and suits, I donate to "Dress for Success" because they help low income women get on their feet and return to work. They have even worked with blind and visually impaired women. I also donate clothes and household items to the American Kidney Fund because they will come to my home to pick up items. I donate furniture to the Salvation Army and Friends of Disabled Adults and Children. I like donating items to nonprofits that have been around for a long time and who also assist people with disabilities in my local community.
I use rechargeable batteries. I use these kinds of batteries especially for my talking clocks and various TV and DVD remote controls. Rechargeable batteries not only help the environment but also save me money by not having to purchase numerous batteries over and over again.
My list is not exhaustive. There are probably a ton of more things that can be done to honor Earth Day. But I think my list is a great way to get started in helping our planet and others too. I am sure after reading it you might realize that you are already doing some of these things. Or you might realize that maybe you can add some of my suggestions to your life too. Regardless, it's time we honor Earth Day every day!
Resources for Earth Day for Individuals with Vision Loss
Re: How I Honor Earth Day Every Day As a Person Who Is BlindPosted by Quietwater on 4/20/2017 at 1:53 PM
Empish, Good suggestions. I just came back from dropping off a load of household items I don't have a need for to a local charity. This one serves the homeless, those who have lost everything in a fire, have just been released from jail or an institution who need furniture and household things to get started again. These are provided free. They also run a small thrift shop to help generate funds for the things that might need to be purchased when starting over. They give out blankets, coats and winter items free to the homeless. This organization is run by a woman who was a social worker before losing her vision. She calls her organization Love INC. Which is Love In the Name of Christ. They also give classes and other assistance to those who have few other options available. I keep a supply of shopping bags in our car and shop at two stores that don't provide plastic or paper bags, but if you forget to bring your own bags, they will pack your things in cartons or boxes or just let you roll your cart out and unload items in to your car without placing them in bags.
Re: How I Honor Earth Day Every Day As a Person Who Is BlindPosted by maribelsteel on 4/20/2017 at 6:07 PM
Empish – Happy Earth Day!
Have you heard of this great thing called Repair Cafés?
“Repair Cafés are free meeting places and they’re all about repairing things. Visitors bring their broken items from home. Together with the specialists they start making their repairs in the Repair Café.”
You can take along anything you feel could be repaired rather than thrown away like electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, toys, clothing and just about anything that you’ve loved but don’t want to put into land-fill. Worth checking out to see where your nearest Repair Café is and for those handy-people who love to work with their hands, you can also be a repair volunteer...
Another way retail stores are encouraging people to bring their own material shopping bags here in Australia is to charge a small fee for using a store plastic bag; sure helps remember to pack those cloth bags in the car...I keep a couple of emergency bags in my handbag that fold up into a very small size.
Re: How I Honor Earth Day Every Day As a Person Who Is BlindPosted by Empish on 4/21/2017 at 5:01 PM
That is great that you donate to that charity. I have donated to a similar one in the past too. I even have a visually impaired friend that ran a transitional house for women coming out of prison and I use to donate to her home when she ran it some years ago. I usually keep a large trash bag in my closet so that as I go through my clothes I can just wash and place them in there and then when the bag gets full make that call for pick up.
Re: How I Honor Earth Day Every Day As a Person Who Is BlindPosted by Empish on 4/21/2017 at 5:06 PM
Happy Earth Day to you too! Thanks for sharing that resource because I have never heard of it before and it sounds like a very good one. I struggle sometimes with throwing away things that might be able to be used again only for some repair work onit. For example I have a boom box now where the CD player part of it is not working properly. The radio and audio cassette parts all function well. So no need to throw in the trash. So I think I will do some online research and find that organization and check them out. Thanks again for the tip!
Re: How I Honor Earth Day Every Day As a Person Who Is BlindPosted by River_Woman on 4/29/2017 at 3:14 PM
All good tips, Empish. My husband and I live only 1/4 mile from the recycling pick up center. We collect our items in laundry baskets and once a week, take them to the center.
Another thing we do is to donate old towels and blankets to a local pet shelter. They need them for bathing the dogs before they go to a new home, and the piggy rescue shelter needs blankets. Believe it or not, pigs love to cuddle up in warm blankets. I also remember my Mother doing her part to recycle items when I was a child. You sparked a good memory for me in your article.
We can also recycle coupons we won't be using to an organization who can use them. For instance, cat and dog food coupons go to the animal shelter.
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