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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Earth Week tips from DEM

 Live More Sustainably and Take Simple Steps That Contribute to a Healthier Planet

During Earth Week, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is encouraging Rhode Islanders to be intentional in taking small but purposeful steps to live more sustainably. Taken together, the simple behavioral changes that we can all make each day at home, on the road, at work and at play, can lead to big results.

We invite Rhode Islanders to take action in their everyday lives to protect the planet. Simple things like shutting off unused lights, turning off the water when you brush your teeth, and recycling and properly disposing of your trash, go a long way. 

The old adage – Think Globally, Act Locally – is a principle that many Rhode Islanders will follow this Earth Day by making small changes to help limit our impact on the environment. The recent signing by Governor McKee of the Act on Climate will move Rhode Island in the right direction when it comes to reducing emissions that exacerbate climate change.

"I am proud of Rhode Island's advocates and leaders who stepped up to enact a strong bill to combat climate change earlier this month. As the Ocean State, we see the direct impacts of climate change, from more intense storms to hotter summers. Climate change is the issue of our time that affects the health, safety, and prosperity of our communities, and we often wonder – what can we do about it? 

"I encourage all Rhode Islanders to take steps toward living more sustainably. Taking stock of our individual actions and making concrete changes in our own behavior during Earth Week and throughout the year are meaningful ways to reduce emissions and preserve our environment," said DEM Director Janet Coit.


1. Eat local – Rhode Island has a vibrant food community with lots of great options for locally sourced ingredients. DEM strongly supports local farms, fishing industries, and shellfishing. Visit Relish Rhody for more information and patronize restaurants that use local ingredients.

2. Drive less and be mindful of your driving style – Carpool, walk, or bike to lower emissions and relieve road congestion. Planning trips to conduct errands in a common area can reduce miles traveled as well. When driving, observe the speed limit and avoid unnecessary acceleration. You'll reduce emissions and save money on gas at the same time. If you are buying a new vehicle, explore an electric or hybrid option.

3. Conserve energy in your home – As old bulbs and appliances reach the end of their useful life, replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs and replace old appliances with energy-efficient appliances. Also, avoid "energy vampires" by unplugging devices when they're not being used or use power strips with on/off switches. Program your thermostat so that your heating and cooling systems use less energy when you're not home. Remember to responsibly recycle your old bulbs (e.g. fluorescents) or thermostats which may contain mercury.

4. Think about your water usage – Modern high-efficiency washing machines and laundry detergents are formulated to be just as effective when using cold water as hot water. Using cold water can lead to significant energy savings every month. Also, you can lower the hot water temperature on your water heater for additional savings.

5. Dry your clothes on a clothesline – Line-drying your clothes saves energy and wear-and-tear on your dryer. Bonus: sunshine is a natural disinfectant for wet clothes. If you can't line-dry your clothes, consider using a lower heat setting or shorter drying cycles on your dryer to conserve energy.

6. Reusable plastics – Eliminating single-use plastics saves energy, reduces unsightly litter, and protects marine life. Next time you go to the farmer's market, bring reusable bags with you; with your next beverage, skip the single-use straw, and use a refillable water bottle. Be sure to bring your cloth shopping bags along on your next trip to the grocery store.

7. Don't let trash fly – Always bag trash. Use covers on your trash bins and close the doors and lids on dumpsters. Be sure trash is properly contained in open areas on trucks, boats, and other moving vehicles.

8. Pick up litter – Next time you're outdoors, take a few minutes to pick up any litter that may have accumulated on your property and along the roadway. With everyone's help, miles and miles of streets could easily become litter-free.

9. Join a community cleanup. Help beautify local neighborhoods and recreation areas by getting involved in a community cleanup project. Earth Week events are occurring across Rhode Island, and DEM has compiled a calendar of events to help you find one in your community.

10. Purchase renewable energy – In RI, you have the option to purchase your energy from a renewable/non-fossil fuel source. Choose a supplier that exceeds state renewable energy standards from the list provided by the RI Public Utilities Commission.

11. Raise your environmental IQ. Explore easy ways you can contribute to a healthier planet: conserve water and energy, reduce waste, and support local farms and conservation efforts.

12. Get outside! – Enjoy our environment and natural resources by visiting a nearby state park or management area or a local preserve. Rhode Island is home to more than 400 miles of hiking trails and abundant fresh- and saltwater paddling opportunities. Get your heart rate going and enjoy spring's bloom on the Blackstone River Bikeway and East Bay Bike Path. For more information including detailed maps, visit RIDOT's website. 

For freshwater anglers, DEM is stocking many popular waterways across Rhode Island with brook, brown, and rainbow trout. The physical, mental, and emotional benefits of time outside are well documented. 

As the late neurologist and author Oliver Sacks wrote in Everything in Its Place, "All of us have had the experience of wandering through a lush garden or timeless desert, walking by a river or an ocean, or climbing a mountain and finding ourselves simultaneously calmed and invigorated, engaged in mind, refreshed in body and spirit. The importance of these physiological states on individual and community health is fundamental and wide-ranging."

Follow DEM on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) or Facebook at for more information on recreational opportunities in Rhode Island as well as other timely updates.

Related links

More Ways To Celebrate Earth Day

Make Every Day Earth Day

Connect with Local Farms