How To Hug a Tree

News Note

By Lara Evans Bracciante

Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, April/May 2004.

This year, celebrate Earth Day, April 22, by practicing conservation tips from You Can Prevent Global Warming (And Save Money!), by Jeffrey Langholz and Kelly Turner (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2003). As global warming becomes less abstract in concept and more of a reality with apparent consequences — drought, disease, floods, and lost ecosystems — doing a few small things that have little impact on your everyday life can contribute to significant, positive changes on the planet.

Make the switch. Switch from incandescent light bulbs to long-lasting compact fluorescent bulbs, use dimmer switches, switch to motion sensors, and flip the switch off when you leave the room.

Ease up on the big chill. Keep your refrigerator at 37–40 degrees F and the freezer at 5 degrees. If every refrigerator in America were turned up just one degree, atmospheric carbon dioxide release would be cut by three million tons a year. The same is true with air conditioners: one degree warmer means a savings of 5.5 million tons of CO2.

Get yard smart. Planting evergreens on the north side of your house can cut heating bills by a third, thanks to the natural windbreaker. Likewise, cut air conditioning costs by incorporating tall shrubbery, high-canopy trees, or trellis vines to shade the roof, air conditioning unit, and sunny walls of the house.

How does your grass grow? Consider xeriscape options in dry climates. If you do have a grassy yard, water before sunrise and after sunset, use a sprinkler system with automatic rain sensors, and make sure you’re only watering the grass and not the sidewalks and driveway. Finally, because gasoline-operated landscaping equipment currently has no emissions regulations, consider an electric mower or an old-fashioned push mower, saving energy and getting a workout.

Eat responsibly. Beef cattle are the second leading producers of methane, followed by sheep and pigs. Think about eating fewer animal products and more local, organic, plant-based foods. Conventional farming practices versus organic practices are responsible every year for the use of millions of pounds of chemical pesticides, which contaminate soil, air, and water and have been directly linked to illnesses and diseases, including asthma and cancer. In addition, eating locally grown foods ensures you’re minimizing the energy costs of shipping foods; the average meal travels 1,200 miles by truck, ship, and/or plane to finally arrive at your table.

Fight your junkyard war. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Buy products with minimal packaging and stop junk mail (visit