Earth Day 2013 Service Talk

Earth Day is the birthday of a worldwide movement to increase environmental awareness. It marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in the 1970s. At the time, air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news. The Earth Day idea came to Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of a massive 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. He realized that if he could raise public consciousness of air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. By order of the United Nations, Earth Day is now a worldwide event celebrated on April 22. Earth Day is the largest, most recognized environmental event worldwide and celebrated each year by over a billion people in 180 counties.

Did You Know?

n Water. Americans use an average of 100 gallons of water every day. Water is one of three critical resources required for our survival on this planet.

n Paper. Every American uses, on average, one 100-foot-tall tree’s worth of paper each year. Recycling just one 4-foot stack of newspaper saves a 40-foot-tall tree.

n Electronics. Americans throw out 350,000 cell phones and 130,000 computers on a daily basis.

n Metal. Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a television for three hours. Cans made from recycled materials save 95 percent of the energy needed to make a can from scratch.

What Does Earth Day Mean to the Postal Service?

Earth Day promotes activities that help the environment both at home or at work. While Earth Day should be honored every day, the month of April is a time to reflect and act on simple low-cost and no-cost actions we can take to conserve natural resources and protect the environment. Protecting the environment by reducing waste also saves money. As we look forward to Earth Day and our participation in its varied activities this year, we must remember that our individual and combined efforts matter, no matter how small. If you feel there is not much one person can do to make an impact, take a look at the Earth Day resources on the USPS Sustainability web page to inspire you.

What Can You Do?

Get involved! Talk to your manager about setting up an Earth Day event at your facility. If you want more ideas, look at the Green Project List on the Lean Green Team web page to identify activities that can help you lead the way to a leaner, greener Postal Service™. If you have any questions about how to get started with Earth Day events, please email the USPS Office of Sustainability at

What Should Employees Know?

Here are just a few ways to make a difference at work or at home:

n Think spring cleaning. Good housekeeping helps prevent spills or leaks from becoming larger problems. Sweep floors, parking lots, and driveways, and keep them free of oil, automotive leaks, chemical spills, and debris. Dispose of wastes appropriately and recycle as much as possible.

n Use it up. Make an effort to use up older materials, cleaning products, and other supplies before buying new products. Don’t buy more than you need. Products that are no longer useful, including used oil, batteries, and bulbs should be recycled appropriately.

n Participate in local hazardous waste collections. Check with your community regarding the next household hazardous waste day, see what types of wastes the community accepts, and if you are able to participate. Don’t create hazardous waste at work by mixing hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals together.

n Don’t trash it. If you see something going into the trash receptacles or dumpster that should be recycled, say something. We all need to do our part to prevent pollution.

n Save water. Fix leaky faucets, valves, and toilets to conserve water and reduce costs.

n Save energy. Turn lights off when exiting rooms and set back thermostats to save energy.

n Plant a tree. Trees offer important benefits to our communities including wind protection, shading, greenhouse gas mitigation, and habitats for a wide range of other species.

Where Can You Find Additional Information?

For more information on Earth Day and what you can do to make a difference, visit the UPS Sustainability website at To investigate or participate in local Earth Day events near you, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website at and the Earth Day Network at