April 22nd is celebrated all around the world as Earth Day. It’s a day when we come together to raise awareness of the need for protection of our planet and conservation of our natural resources. This year’s Earth Day marks the 50th anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement!
During the 1960s, the US economy and industry were thriving. People were driving large gas-guzzling vehicles, factories and chemical plants were working full steam and the oil industry was booming. At the time, the public was mostly oblivious to the fact that the modern way of life was destroying the environment in a huge way. There was little press coverage or concern over air and water pollution, oil spills, toxic waste dumps, pesticides, the extinction of wildlife or the loss of natural habitats.
It wasn’t until a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969 that the idea was born to create a movement that would force environmental protection into the political agenda. US Senator Gaylord Nelson witnessed the havoc that the oil spill wreaked on the wildlife along the coast of California and he initiated a push to spread the idea of environmental conservation among the general public. So, in 1970, the first ever Earth Day was organized. Twenty million people across the US took to the streets to demonstrate against the destruction of our planet and demand a healthy and sustainable environment.
In 1990, the Earth Day movement went global. It brought together 200 million people across 141 countries and catapulted environmental issues onto the world stage. It gave an enormous boost to recycling efforts around the world and served as an inspiration for the United Nations Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Today, Earth Day is being celebrated in over 190 countries with the aim of mobilizing 1 billion people in conservation efforts worldwide!
Regardless of all the wonderful efforts taking place on April 22nd, we need to remember that protection of our environment is something that we all need to strive for every single day. So, we want to share with you some ideas on how you can contribute to leaving a healthy and sustainable planet for many generations to come.
1. Participate in a beach or forest clean-up effort in your local area to help get rid of plastics and other trash.
2. Plant a tree. If you are not in a position to actually plant a tree, you can always donate to organizations involved in reforestation efforts around the world.
3. Be water wise. A few easy examples are turning your water faucet off while brushing your teeth or spending less time in the shower. It may seem insignificant at times, but multiply it by millions and even billions of people around the world and the water savings can be tremendous!
4. Use reusable fabric bags for your groceries instead of single-use plastic bags. Try to stop using plastic straws as well. They are a huge percentage of the plastic waste that is polluting the world’s oceans.
5. Try to reduce your purchasing of single-use plastic bottles. Juices and fizzy drinks in plastic bottles are packed with sugar, so cutting down on them is also great for your health!
6. Shop at local farmers markets. Farmers markets support local businesses and use much less plastic than large supermarkets. Also, since the products at farmers markets are mostly locally grown, they also contribute to much lower CO2 emissions thanks to shorter transport distances.
7. Do your best to recycle as much as you can.
8. Try to conserve electricity. You can do this with simple things like turning off lights, electronic devices and appliances that you are not currently using. You can also switch to using energy efficient light bulbs in your household. You can also consider hand-washing your dishes every once in a while instead of using an electric dishwasher. Just like with saving water, a few lightbulbs can seem insignificant, but multiplied by billions of people around the world and the savings can be gigantic!
9. Walk or ride a bike. Passenger cars and road transportation in general are major polluters and contribute significantly to the total greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, walking or riding a bike is a great exercise and can only do you good!
10. Consider switching your bills to paperless billing. Paperless billing can save you both time and money, plus a reduced demand for paper will hopefully bring about a decrease in the rate of global deforestation.
In addition to all of the above, there is one more easy way you can help protect our Mother Earth. Spread the word! The more people know about Earth Day and how they can contribute to the conservation of our environment, the faster we will be able to reduce pollution and bring about real and sustainable change!