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Ideas For International Polar Bear Day

/ Post by Erica Wills of Polar Bears International

International Polar Bear Day is coming up on February 27! To celebrate, here are some ideas of what you can do to help the bears and inspire those around you – both for this one day and beyond. Click here to make the pledge on Facebook that you’ll participate!

1.     Bundle Up for Polar Bears: This is an initiative that PBI (Polar Bears International) and its Arctic Ambassador Centers are heavily promoting as the starter event for their SOS (Save Our Sea Ice) Campaign. Turn your thermostat down at least 2 degrees and bundle up in your favorite sweater, scarf, and fuzzy hat! For my friends in college, turn yours down several marks from where you usually keep it, or turn it off completely for the day. See if you can keep it lower than usual by putting on a pair of socks and a sweatshirt in the future, too. 

2.    Stink for the Arctic: Last year, SpiritHoods hosted this initiative that challenged people to not take a shower for the day. If 5,000 people didn’t shower for one day, 26,110 lbs. of carbon dioxide will be prevented from entering the atmosphere! For those of you thinking, “Well, another person can do it; I’m sure there’ll be 5,000 people without me,” think about this: what if we could get 10,000 people? 25,000? Each person makes an impact every day, and this is your chance to make it a positive one! Though this isn’t an “official” thing this year, I encourage you all to take part!

3.     Take Shorter Showers: Obviously, it would not be a good idea to never shower. So, make a real effort to shorten your shower time! 2.5 gallons of water is spent every minute on average; reducing your shower time by five minutes will save 12.5 gallons of water. Not only does this conserve water, but it also conserves energy that would have been used to heat the water. Simple and effective, and it’ll free up more time for you while getting ready, too!

4.     Use Cloth/Reusable Bags: Most of you have probably heard this one before, but it’s a good one to remember. For one, you would be automatically saving paper and plastic by utilizing reusable bags, which tend to be more reliable and are able to carry more. Additionally, the majority of grocery stores nowadays – Fred Meyers, Winco/Waremart, Safeway – will give you a discount for however many bags you bring, usually $0.10 per bag. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you brought 10 bags, you’d shave $0.60 off your total; with today’s economy, and especially for us poor college students, every single penny counts.

5.     Replace Incandescents with CFLs: Compact fluorescent lightbulbs might cost a dollar or two more at the store, but you’ll save hundreds more in the long run. CFLs use 75% less electricity, and last longer as well, compared to incandescent bulbs. On the argument that they are more dangerous because of the small amount of mercury inside, the key word there is small. To compare, the old mercury thermometers contained 125 times more mercury than today’s CFLs. Just make sure you dispose of them properly, and you’ll be good to go!

6.     Don’t Idle in Your Car: This one might come as a surprise to many of you. Contrary to common thought, idling your car is not the better option compared to turning off your engine. Ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than turning off and restarting your engine. Even worse, for every two minutes you idle, you use the same amount of fuel it takes to drive one mile. With today’s gas prices, that can be wasting anywhere from $3.65 to $5.00. Most people idle for an average of 10 minutes per day, which means that you are wasting $18.25 to $25.00 every day. Gas prices aren’t going to be lowering any time soon, so this is a fantastic way to save money and reduce carbon dioxide. To read the truth against myths surrounding idling – including why idling isn’t needed to warm up the engine, why idling actually isn’t good for your engine, and why shutting off and restarting your car has little impact on the engine – click here.

7.     Unplug Unused Electronics: Even when things are turned off, they still draw energy when plugged in. Luckily, there’s an easy fix: just unplug unused and unnecessary electronics when you’re not using them! Toasters, computers, stereos, phone chargers, blenders, TVs, lamps: all can be unplugged at night and when you’re not using them during the day. Getting a power-strip or two will also be a great benefit; you can keep multiple electronics shut off at the same time, and keep things more organized. 

8.     Run on Full Loads: Do both your laundry and your dishes when you can put in a full load. It might take a couple extra minutes to arrange and work out fitting things in to your dishwasher, and you might have to wait a day or two to wear a specific shirt, but in the end you’re saving tons on water, energy, and money. Wash individual dishes and clothing items by hand as needed to prevent small loads. 

9.     Lights Off: We’ve been told this since kindergarten, but it’s a reminder that constantly needs to be said. It’s the same as with your unused electronics; if you leave your room, turn off your light. Even if it’s just for a minute to run to grab something, getting into the habit of constantly shutting lights off when you’re not there is important.

10.    No More Plastic: 2.5 million plastic bottles are thrown away every hour in the U.S. alone. Every year? Over 25 billion. That is far too big of a number. Less than 15-20% of plastic bottles are recycled. On top of this, over 16.5 billion tons of water is wasted every year. 884 million lack access to clean water, and 3.575 million people die each year from a water-related disease. A child dies every 20 seconds from a water-related disease. Bottled water is no safer than tap water; in fact, the majority of bottled water comes from the tap, with little or no additional filtering. In fact, there is a greater chance for chemicals like phthalates to leech into plastic bottles over time! Getting a reusable bottle and consistently using makes a major difference for both the environment and for people around the world. Matt Damon co-founded Water.org to bring clean water to people throughout Africa, South Asia, and Central America. Visit the site to learn more about how water is needed throughout the world, and click here to purchase a water bottle that is reusable, has a built-in filter, and has part of its proceeds going to support Water.org’s mission. 

There you have it: 10 simple, powerful, meaningful ways that YOU can make a difference in the world. Accept the challenge and be a part of something greater than any one of us: the power that comes from working together to change the world!