Happy Earth Day! You may notice people sporting a little more blue and green in their attire today. Perhaps you’ll spot others picking up trash that is not theirs. No matter what, Earth Day is important day to recognize. Not sure what it means to you? Don’t worry – There is still time to learn more about it and find activities in your area.
Earth Day was created to raise awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. It occurs annually in both hemispheres – in the spring in the northern hemisphere and during the fall in the southern hemisphere. In the United States, we celebrate it during a special time - National Parks Week. But when did it start?
Thanks to one man, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, we celebrate Earth Day. He believed that the state of the environment was not considered an important issue in politics and decided to go straight to the boss. In 1963, Senator Nelson asked President Kennedy to go on a nationwide tour promoting the environment. The President liked the idea and went on a five-day conservation tour that fall. Though the tour was labeled as unsuccessful by many, it did set the stage for Earth Day.
In September 1969, during a conference in Seattle, Washington, Senator Nelson made an announcement that in the following spring (1970), there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on the environment. The date April 22 was chosen because Senator Nelson was looking for a date that would be popular on college campuses for an environmental teach-in. This time, the papers promoted the campaign and more than 20 million people participated.
Senator Nelson went on to serve ten years in the Wisconsin Senate and was twice elected Governor of the State of Wisconsin. As founder of Earth Day, he created a movement and helped pave the way for such important acts as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act.
What You Can Do
As you’re already aware, environmental issues are gaining popularity and momentum in today’s world. Issues of global climate change, pollution, waste control, and reusable energy are now so important, there are hundreds of organizations dedicated to raise awareness and find solutions. Earth Day helps to serve as a reminder that there’s a surplus of things we can do every single day to help our planet. Here are just a few ideas:
- Turn off appliances when you’re not home.
- Only use a microwave to cook small meals.
- Use Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs to increase energy efficacy and cut back on pollution.
- Always stay up to date on air conditioning and refrigeration maintenance. Less leaks mean less energy.
- Look for co-workers to commute with. If you work closely, think about riding a bike or walking to work.
- Don’t let water run when brushing teeth or shaving.
- Take short showers rather than baths.
- Store drinking water in the fridge rather than running a faucet until it is cold.
- Wash only full loads of laundry. This applies to dishwashers as well.
- If you set sprinklers for the lawn, make sure you’re not wasting water on sidewalks.
- Repair all leaks as soon as they occur.
- Sweep outside rather than using a hose.
- Buy and use only what you need.
- Buy permanent items rather than disposable ones.
- Use cloth napkins rather than paper ones.
- Use a durable/travel mug for beverages.
- Use reusable grocery bags when shopping. If you end up with plastic bags, reuse them as garbage bags.
- Recycle paper, plastic, glass bottles, cardboard, and aluminum cans.
- Recycle electronics
These are just a few examples of what we can all do every day that add up to make a significant difference in the world. And Earth Day serves as our reminder to keep up the good work!
Earth Day Events
All over the nation, events are held in celebration and recognition of Earth Day. EarthDayNetwork (EDN) is a great resource if you’re looking for programs and activities. You can search for programs, campaigns, and special events, or search for events by location.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency also offers a comprehensive list of events and volunteer opportunities for Earth Day enthusiasts.
Kids play a crucial role in Earth Day. The younger children recognize and participate in this important day, the longer of an impact they can have on the earth. If you have kids, be sure to research EarthDay.gov’s fantastic page of sites designed for kids related to Earth Day.
So get out there and spread the word! Pick up garbage in your neighborhood or park. Think about planting a tree or flowers locally. Whatever you do, remember you can make all the difference in the world!