Earth Day was founded 40 years ago by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson. And now, April 22 has become a day when countries and people all across the globe celebrate the Earth's environment and focus on developing an awareness of how we affect it.

As homeowners, we consume a lot of energy, and leave one heck of a carbon footprint. From the moment our homes are constructed, we are consuming resources and emitting toxins into the air through paints and stains. Once in the home, we use a myriad of products every day in our normal routines, from dish soap, to laundry detergent, to sprinkler systems for our lawns, and all of which use, and sometimes abuse, mother nature's resources.

Change starts with each individual person. And change is inspired by knowledge.

Did you know that Americans use and toss 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour? And a plastic bottle takes around 1,000 years to biodegrade. That's a lot of trash!

Did you know that just one quart of motor oil can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water? You can properly dispose of your motor oil by taking it to your local Auto Zone, or similar stores. Every AutoZone store accepts used batteries for recycling and 95% of their stores accept used motor oil and other used fluids. The American Petroleum Institute says, "If you change your own oil, be certain that you take it to a collection center for recycling. If you take your car to an automotive service outlet, you can be fairly certain that they recycle the oil that they change."

Did you know that every year, each American throws out about 1,200 pounds of organic garbage that can be composted? If you have the space, consider buying a composting bin for your yard. New designs are more ascetically pleasing than those of the past -- and they don't smell half bad, either!

One great step you can take to help preserve the environment, and to combat to above statistics, is to become proactive when it comes to recycling.

Contact your local waste disposal company and see what programs they may already have in place. If your community doesn't collect at the curb, them simply save up your bottles and other recyclables (paper, plastic, glass bottles, cardboard, and aluminum cans) and take them to a local recycling center.

To take this process one step further, replace those plastic water bottles with a water filtration system. There are inexpensive ways to accomplish this, such as using Brita filters that attach directly to your faucet, or Brita water pitchers to be used and refilled. But if you want to it to another level, there are whole house water filtration systems that will even filter the water you shower in! There are systems that cost less than $1,000, and will last for years to come.

Have a great Earth Day this year, and to find our more tips on making your household green, visit the EPA's Earth Day site.

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