For over 40 years, Earth Day has been celebrated in April as a way to raise awareness and promote action toward environmental issues. From global concerns to grassroots efforts, this event has had a profound effect on our environment. Learn about the history of Earth Day, how you can celebrate Mother Earth every day, and what the future holds.
Origins of Earth Day
The first Earth Day in 1970 was organized by Senator Gaylord Nelson during a time of heavy pollution, to draw environmental issues into the news, and therefore into the interest of legislators. That initial event, attended by 20 million people nationwide, spurred 28 major legislative enactments over the next 10 years, including the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency* and implementation of the Clean Water Act.* More than 40 years later, Earth Day continues to inspire us to take action.
Celebrating Earth Day Today
While legislative actions have greatly improved the health of our environment, individuals continue to have a significant influence on the future well being of our planet. Here are some small ways we can make a big impact.
Conservation at home
We've all heard these tips before, but putting them into action really adds up. Turn off lights and electronics when not in use. Wait for a full load before running the dishwasher or washing machine. Be sure all vents and filters in heating and cooling systems, appliances, etc. are clean for maximum efficiency. Insulate around doors and windows and use shades or drapes to keep hot sun out in summer and cool air out in winter. Run appliances at off hours to allow replenishment of resources for peak-hours. The key is changing small habits to work toward big improvements.
Reduction of waste
Cutting our contribution to landfills is good for the environment. Use dishes and silverware at home, rather than paper plates and plastic utensils. Plan meals you can make ahead of time to cut down on the amount of takeout you order. This not only reduces packaging in landfills but also promotes a healthier diet. Switch to Online BillPay and electronic statements with your bank, utility companies and credit cards. You'll save on checks, stamps, and the need to file.
Reuse and recycle
Think twice before buying anything. Consider how often you'll use the product, where you'll store it, if something else will be tossed because of it, and if you'll be adding the product to a landfill anytime soon. Can you find a similar one that is used or recycled? That not only reduces waste but will probably save you money as well.
We live in a world of constant motion. Transporting yourself and your family to and from work and school, running errands, and taking vacations all use fuel that must be generated and creates waste for the environment. Try alternative transportation to work once in awhile — bike riding or carpooling, public transportation, or working from home occasionally. A small change in your commuting routine could inspire a long-term shift in habit.
And remember anything you buy — food, electronics, clothing, automobiles, etc. — must be transported to local stores or to your home. Buy local when possible and think about whether or not you really need all the stuff you're buying.
Sustaining the Environment
Making changes in our lifestyle is the first step in preserving our earth. The next step is to repair the damage we've already done. Consider planting a tree or creating a wildlife habitat to attract birds and small animals that may have been displaced by construction. Join an environmental organization to make positive changes in your community. Encourage others to join the Earth Day movement year round. Most importantly, get outside and enjoy the great green earth that Mother Nature celebrates!
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