I know, I know, Earth Day was yesterday. But that’s okay! Just because it’s not Earth Day today doesn’t mean we can’t all be sustainable and committed to a greener future. That’s not what Earth Day would want! Let’s talk a little bit about the history of Earth Day and how it came to be, and then let’s talk about how you can celebrate it and give back to the Earth (not just on April 22nd, but all year long)!
Believe it or not, Earth Day is a relatively new holiday. The very first one took place in 1970, a time when humans were oblivious to the harm they were causing the environment. Back then, there was no concern for greenhouse gas emissions, dumping toxic waste and sludge into the ocean or the consumption of harmful chemicals. As earthday.org puts it, “air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity.”
Before delving into the first Earth Day of 1970, let’s go back to 1962 when Rachel Carson’s bestselling book Silent Springs was published. Selling over 500,000 copies in 24 different countries, the book raised public concern and awareness for the environment, pollution, public health, and the other living creatures sharing this planet with us. This book (paired with witnessing a massive oil spill in 1969) spurred junior Senator Gaylord Nelson to do something about the Earth and its deteriorating health.
Inspired by the energy of student anti-war protests, Senator Nelson (along with Congressman Pete McCloskey and activist Denis Hayes) chose April 22nd as the day to promote conservation, preservation, sustainable practices and events with college students. Eventually, the event spread nationwide, and we have Earth Day as we know it today. For more information and to check out the rest of the story, go to the Earth Day website here.
There’s definitely more to the story, but that’s the basic gist of it. How does one celebrate this holiday? There’s no one correct way or a right or wrong answer, but I’m going to share a few ideas below. If you’re simply helping to reduce your carbon footprint, being mindful of your waste, or shopping sustainably, you’re celebrating Earth Day. And the best thing about it? It doesn’t have to be April 22nd to be celebrated!
Plant a tree, or flower, or any type of plant
Is there a better way to celebrate and give back to the Earth than this one? I might have set the bar too high here. Planting a tree helps in a multitude of ways. You can combat deforestation, create habitat for animals, and even create oxygen! One tree might not seem like a lot, but if 1000 people (.0003% of the US population) each planted a single tree, we’d have a small forest. Give it a few years, and you’ve helped to replenish ecosystems and biodiversity. What could be a better way to give back to the Earth than this?
Ride a bike
Do you like going to the convenience store for candy bars? Or the library for books? Or Taco Bell for a $5 cravings box? (Not an advertisement, I just really love Taco Bell) What if I told you that you can ride your bike to any one of these places, and not release any harmful CO2 into the air. According to a report from commuter.com, a car releases 2.33 kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for every liter of gasoline burned. A bicycle will never do this. I could go on about the benefits of riding your bike rather than driving, but to keep things short and sweet, follow this simple rule: If the destination is not that far away, consider taking your bike, and save that gas for another time. The Earth will thank you for it.
Buy produce from a local farmer’s market
Helping out local businesses is always a good thing to do, and in this case, you’re also helping the planet. Produce at grocery stores and supermarkets has to travel long distances across the nation, and as mentioned above, driving releases harmful chemicals into the air. Not only that, but the produce at the farmer’s market is fresher and cleaner, not sprayed down with pesticides and other sciencey things to make them look better. The less of these chemicals on our food, in our bodies and atmospheres the better.
Although Earth Day was yesterday, we can still celebrate it everyday. Planting something, riding a bike, and buying local produce are just a few ways you can help, but the possibilities are endless! We’d love to hear about your Earth Day and what you did to celebrate and honor our beautiful blue and green planet. Feel free to share down in the comments below. And even if you think that your effort doesn’t matter, it does, and by working together we can make a better world. Happy Earth Day!
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