On April 22nd, the world will celebrate the 46th annual Earth Day. Even after all these years, the mission of Earth Day has remained consistent: directing attention and energy towards pressing environmental issues that otherwise may be ignored.
As this annual celebration inches closer and closer, take a look back at why Earth Day is so important, how you can partake in the festivities and how to live out its honorable mission on your own:
Why is Earth Day Important?
Before Earth Day was established in 1970, there were no laws and regulations around environmental issues. Imagine a world where black clouds of smoke poured out of factory buildings and toxic waste was openly dumped into bodies of water. Without important legislation such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, this was the unfortunate reality for millions of Americans.
But finally, Senator Gaylord Nelson realized that change needed to occur and thus, Earth Day was created. Over 20 million Americans demonstrated across the country to bring awareness to the massive environmental issues that loomed over the world. As a result, Congress had no choice but to develop the Environmental Protection Agency later that year.
Every year, Earth Day serves as a reminder to the world that there is still much to be done to protect this beautiful planet. Earth Day is not limited to just one environmental issue, it encompasses a wide variety from noise and air pollution to waste prevention, energy efficiency and climate change. For one day a year, the world is reminded to put aside their differences and remember that everyone shares the same planet, and it is a shared responsibility to protect it.
How Is It Being Celebrated Around the World?
Earth Day is observed all over the world, not just in America. No matter where you live in the world, there is most likely an Earth Day event being planned near you.
In Africa, you can help your fellow neighbors protect trees at local primary schools or educate others about the dangers of littering. In Sri Lanka and India, you can help plant trees in the community, and in China, residents can attend a recycled art show to see how recycled goods can still be beautiful and useful. Brazilians can hop on a bike and pedal their way through the country, enjoying this energy efficient way of traveling to honor Earth Day.
Europeans can spend the day attending one of the many eco-conscious festivals that are designed to teach people about the benefits of living an environmentally-friendly life. Attendees will learn about recycling, sustainability and shopping locally, among other topics. Over 40 cities will host the annual Fishackathon, an event that will draw in hundreds of guests who are interested in solving the problem of overfishing that has severely drained the ocean’s resources.
Throughout America, you can honor this day by participating in community clean-ups, running a 5k to raise awareness or learning about how you can do your part to protect the wildlife around you.
How Can You Get Involved?
Even if there isn’t an event going on near you, there are still many ways for you to get involved and do your part to protect the Earth.
Buy local produce.
Do you buy your fruits and vegetables from a grocery store? Most produce sits for seven days while it is brought from the farm to the grocery store, losing more of its nutritional value the longer that it sits uneaten. In fact, by the time you purchase your “fresh” produce, it has probably lost around 45% of its nutrients! Instead of buying produce from a grocery store, buy it from a local farmer’s market. Not only will you have the benefit of consuming all of the vegetables’ nutrients, but you’ll also help the environment by reducing the carbon emissions typically produced as the fruits and vegetables are transported to stores.
Avoid using disposable plastic.
Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year to create water bottles, grocery bags and other consumer goods. Out of these 300 million tons, it is estimated that only 10% is properly recycled and reused, meaning the other 90% ends up tossed into landfills as waste or littered throughout the natural environment. When plastic is left in the environment, harmful chemicals seep into the soil around it, contaminating the plants and animals that call that area home. Do your part to help the environment by avoiding the use of disposable plastic. When you go shopping, carry along a reusable bag that you can load up with groceries instead of relying on the plastic bags at the store. While you’re there, don’t purchase any plastic water bottles! Instead, invest in reusable bottles that can be filled up with filtered water and carried with you on-the-go. These small lifestyle changes can help reduce the amount of plastic waste in your environment.
Put an end to junk mail.
Over 100 million trees are cut down every year to produce junk mail that the majority of receivers don’t even bother looking at! Cutting these trees down severely affects both water conservation and climate change efforts in the environment. But the negative effects of junk mail don’t end there. Junk mail produces a larger amount of greenhouse emissions every year than 9 million cars combined! The production and shipping of junk mail also leads to around 28 billion gallons of wasted water.
How can you put an end to junk mail? There are a number of ways, including DMAChoice, which allows consumers to select which companies should stop sending them mail. Another option, Catalog Choice, can help you opt out of phone books, magazines and catalogs that you no longer wish to receive, drastically reducing the amount of waste you produce via junk mail.
Reduce food waste.
Billions of pounds of food are wasted every year, being thrown into landfills instead of consumed. By some estimations, over one-third of the food that is produced for human consumption ends up wasted! Instead of throwing away unwanted food, turn to composting, an eco-friendly alternative.
Composting is a natural occurrence where microorganisms, bacteria and insects break down organic materials including food from the kitchen. You can either create a compost pile in a trash bin or bucket, or just create a tiny pile in the backyard, depending on where you live. Add food that you would otherwise have thrown away, and be sure to mix around the materials every week or so. Besides this, you don’t have to do anything but wait for composting to naturally take place!
Remember, you don’t have to wait until Earth Day to get involved with protecting the environment. Use these tips year-round to raise awareness, get others involved, and make an impact!