DEM celebrates Earth Day

Wed, 04/22/2020 - 2:30pm

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management submitted the following to The Block Island Times:

This week, as Rhode Island joins the world in marking the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Governor Gina M. Raimondo and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are reflecting on the progress Rhode Island has made in protecting our state’s natural resources – from Narragansett Bay to local waters and green spaces to the air we breathe. Since 1970, efforts to improve air and water quality, clean up contaminated lands, conserve open space, increase recreational opportunities, and take action to confront climate change have greatly enhanced Rhode Islanders’ quality of life.

"On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, I encourage all Rhode Islanders to step outside – close to home – and take a moment to appreciate the tremendous natural resources we have here in the Ocean State,” said Governor Raimondo. “While we must be clear-eyed about the challenges we face, particularly around climate change, Rhode Islanders should be proud of the aggressive steps we’ve taken to protect our environment for future generations.”  

Take action to confront climate change!

In this time of social distancing, DEM asks Rhode Islanders to commit to taking steps in their everyday lives to protect the planet. “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. There are plenty of changes people can make from home — like reducing plastic consumption and waste — that help to reduce harmful impacts and promote sustainability: 


  • Start composting: When you compost, you cut down on waste and what you have left over you can use to fertilize your garden. Simply deposit food scraps into a bin and empty it once a week. Coffee is a rich source of nitrogen for plants, both indoor and outdoor. Outside, sprinkle old coffee grounds around your plants, working the old grounds into the mulch — the grounds can help keep slugs and other plant pests away, too.
  • Ditch paper towels for cloth: Instead of buying more paper products, switch out paper towels for cloth rags. You can make your own rags out of old t-shirts.
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle: Cut down on what you throw away. Follow the three "R's" to conserve natural resources and landfill space.
  • Green your cleaning products: Don't send chemicals into our waterways. Choose non-toxic chemicals in the home and office. It’s easy to make your own cleaning products out of vinegar, lemon and some water. When cleaning and sanitizing for COVID-19 purposes, make sure to use products approved by EPA for this purpose.
  • Choose sustainable food: Learn how to make smart seafood choices at


  • Use less water: The less water you use, the less runoff and wastewater that end up in the ocean. You can do your part by keeping your faucet low when you wash your face and using a low-pressure showerhead. However, don’t worry about conserving water with washing your hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Use sustainable beauty products: There are many eco-friendly beauty brands. Using products that don’t include harsh chemicals isn’t just good for your skin, it’s good for the earth.


  • Purchase rechargeable batteries: Instead of tossing batteries when they’re out of juice, invest in some rechargeable batteries for your devices.
  • Use long-lasting light bulbs: Energy efficient light bulbs reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Also flip the light switch off when you leave the room.
  • Unplug electronics: You will save a lot of energy if you unplug electronics when they’re not in use. Big TVs take up lots of energy and make your utility bill more expensive. Turning off items such as TVs and computers is good for your wallet and the environment.


  • Shop wisely: Single-use disposables such as plastic shopping bags, bottles, cups and straws – along with items like six-pack rings and balloons – are unsightly, dangerous and an all-too-familiar litter on land and in coastal waters. Buy fewer products packaged in or with plastics.

Other Ideas

  • Recycle your car: You can donate your car to many charities or recycle it at your local automotive recycling center. You could even receive a tax deduction for recycling your old vehicle.
  • Buy a houseplant: Certain houseplants, like spider plants, help purify the air of harmful toxins. Put one in your bathroom, hallway — anywhere!
  • Plant a tree: Trees provide food and oxygen. They help save energy, clean the air, and help combat climate change. But make sure to pick the right tree for your yard!
  • Educate: When you further your own education, you can help others understand the importance and value of our natural resources.

Pledge to make five small changes that contribute to a healthier planet: conserve water and energy, reduce waste, support local farms, and join conservation efforts.

For a full list of ideas, view  Join the conversation on social media, using #Pledge5.

Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has served as a yearly catalyst for action and advocacy, environmental education, and positive change. Activities surrounding the day are focused on broadening public involvement in protecting natural resources and promoting a healthier environment for future generations.