Small Collective Actions Can Make a Big Difference

Dave Nemazie ·
5 May 2010
Environmental Literacy | Applying Science | 

How can a minute, a mile, and a tree help protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay? Saving water, driving less, and planting trees are all ways to help protect and restore our local waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay.

Minute Mile Tree

A Minute. By taking one minute off your shower you can save a gallon of water per day. Each day the average Marylander uses approximately 100 gallons of potable water and at least that much needs to be cleaned at treatment plants or septic systems before being released back into our waterways. Other ways to save water are to fix leaky faucets, use the washing machine and dishwasher only when you have a full load, and set up a rain barrel for watering plants and gardens. For example, a total of 34 million gallons of water can be saved by residents of Wicomico County by simply taking shorter showers!!

A Mile. By driving one less mile per day can significantly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and nitrogen pollution released into the environment. Each Marylander drives on average 33 miles per day commuting to work, doing chores, or making pleasure trips. By combining trips, walking short distances, and commuting with colleagues each person should easily be able to drive one less mile per day. This simple action by Wicomico County residents would reduce the emissions of 24 million pounds of carbon dioxide and 221 pounds of nitrous oxide each year.

A Tree. Planting trees requires a sapling, shovel, and foresight to imagine what that spot will look like in 20 years. We all know that trees provide excellent habitat for wildlife, shade, and general beauty. But did you also know that they save money by treating stormwater and can significantly reduce electric bills depending upon their proximity to buildings. It is estimated that a 24 inch pine tree can treat over 7,000 gallons of storm water each year. That same pine tree can also shade your house, reducing the need for air conditioning. The beauty of a tree is their longevity providing environmental services over multiple human generations. Just imagine how much more beautiful your neighborhood would be if every resident planted one tree per year.

We can help the rivers, streams, and Bays by taking shorter showers, driving a little less, and enhancing your neighborhood by planting trees. These are all relatively simple actions that collectively can make a big difference to our environment while also saving money. If you want to protect and restore the environment just remember: A Minute, A Mile, A Tree.

Barrel Traffic Tree
Barrel Traffic Tree

Additional Resources:

Water conservation calculator:
Tree calculator:
Tree purchase incentive program:

About the author

Dave Nemazie

Dave Nemazie has extensive experience in aquatic research, science and policy interface, university administration, partnership development, and public relations. He has developed new partnerships with the public, private, and non-profit sector, locally as well as internationally. He is passionate about environmental science: both communicating its relevance to the public and its impact on the decision making process. He received a MS in marine sciences while studying the ecology of zooplankton in Chesapeake Bay through the University of Maryland College Park.

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