When asked to write about Earth Day, I was excited to learn what POLYWOOD is currently doing sustainability-wise, but I also wanted to get involved in creating more change. There are many ways in which we can make a difference, even with just small changes, but first let’s look at how Earth Day began.
In 1969, the damage done by a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California inspired Wisconsin’s then-Senator Gaylord Nelson to found what would eventually become the largest secular holiday in the world – celebrated by more than one billion people every year! On April 22, 1970, Senator Nelson and his staff of 85 rallied 20 million people throughout America to peacefully protest the industrial revolution. Earth Day was born.
Since then, Earth Day has garnered support for the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and contributed to the passage of the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and many other environmental laws.
Though great strides have been made, battling environmental issues is a constant struggle. Drought and wildfires are a common occurrence, the ozone layer is thinning, polar ice caps are melting, glaciers are retreating, and crucial honey bee populations are being wiped out due to pesticides. Thousands of environmental groups around the world fight against air, soil, and water pollution, resource depletion, deforestation, genetic engineering, climate change, global warming, and much more.
Let’s take a look at climate change.
The earth is warming up. There is now an overwhelming scientific consensus that this is indeed happening and it’s human-induced, with carbon emissions being the main culprit. Ten of the hottest years in recorded history were within the early 2000s, with 2015 topping the list, and 2016 was not far behind. March of 2016 was also the 11th consecutive month to see a new record for temperatures since agencies began tracking them in the 1800s.
In March of 2000, Denis Hayes, the National Coordinator of the original Earth Day, told National Geographic, “The world’s leaders in Kyoto, Japan, in late 1997, acknowledged the scientific fact that the leading cause of global warming is carbon emissions from fossil fuel consumption and that something must be done to address those rising emissions.”
Actions need to be taken. But how can we as individuals hope to effect change on these issues?
I’m glad you asked! Even the simplest changes to your daily routine can really add up, and the more of us there are who are actively making these changes, the more we can increase our effectiveness exponentially.
Reduce your carbon footprint on Earth:
- Change a light. Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb saves 150 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.
- Drive less. Walk, bike, carpool, or use public transportation. This helps reduce gas consumption and one pound of carbon dioxide per mile you do not drive.
- Check your tires. Properly inflated tires equal better gas mileage. Twenty pounds of carbon dioxide is not produced for each gallon of gas you save.
- Recycle and buy recycled. Up to 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide can be saved each year just by recycling half your household waste. You’ll also save energy, resources, and landfill space! We might know where you could buy outdoor furniture made with recycled content. 😉
- Turn off electronics. Turning off your TV, DVD player, computer, coffee maker, and other electronic devices can save each household thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide each year. Many devices continue to use energy even when powered down. Unplugging will prevent a constant drain and will save you some money in the process.
- Plant a tree. A single tree can absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime!
- Use less hot water. Heating water takes a lot of energy, and using energy means carbon emissions. Reducing your energy usage means fewer emissions and a cheaper bill for you! Washing clothes in cold water saves 500 pounds of carbon dioxide each year, and using a low-flow showerhead saves another 350 pounds.
- Promote reuse. Donate used cell phones and chargers, furniture, clothing, and even cleaning and school supplies.
Here at POLYWOOD, we take pride in the steps and processes taken to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Not only are POLYWOOD products created with recycled content, but we also reclaim over 99% of our factory waste and recycle it back into the manufacturing line.
A few more of POLYWOOD’s earth-friendly stats:
- Skylights are installed throughout our facilities in order to save energy (our manufacturing and shipping facilities at both of our campuses even have overhead lights with motion sensors — they won’t turn on unless people are moving below).
- All of our cardboard boxes are custom-sized in-house to fit each furniture shipment to reduce waste. And when there are cardboard scraps we recycle those, along with old boxes, with an on-site cardboard compactor and recycling pick-up.
- All metals (extra aluminum pieces, broken fasteners, etc.) are recycled through a third-party.
- All employee-used glass, paper, aluminum cans, and plastic is recycled (we have multiple recycling bins throughout each building on both POLYWOOD campuses).
- All scrap or post-consumer fabrics are recycled through the Recycle My Sunbrella® program.
- All wood pallets are reused and/or recycled.
Now, allow me to put into perspective just how much recycled material is used in the production of POLYWOOD furniture.
It takes approximately 500 milk jugs to create
one of our Classic Folding Adirondacks.
In 2020, we sold 31,816 Classic Adirondacks…
…that’s an astounding 15.9 million milk jugs!
Not to mention, this is only counting one specific chair out of numerous POLYWOOD products.
Whether it’s a growing industrial business or simply an individual at home, one person can make a difference. It simply requires the willingness to make a change in the world.
For some fun Earth Day-inspired activities and recipes check out our Pinterest board.
And below we have some really cool craft ideas for you to check out!
1: DIY Paint Pallet w/bottle caps and oatmeal lid
2: Nature Journal w/paper bags and yarn
Blog post updated March 15, 2021