Earth Day is coming up on Tuesday, April 22. I love participating in local green events, but I am wondering how all this Earth Day stuff got started?
— Maryann, Breckenridge
As Eartha Steward, you can probably guess why this is my favorite holiday of the year. Earth Day has a long and rich history in our country and is now considered a global holiday. There are so many green ways to celebrate our beautiful planet this coming Tuesday, April 22.
The height of the flower power days in the ’70s brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles’ album, and our nation’s first-ever Earth Day. During this time, the word “environment” was more often found in spelling bees rather than on the evening news. It was not the hot button topic that it is today.
Pollution was rampant in this time before the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, a democrat from Wisconsin, had enough and started Earth Day — and with it, a new wave of environmental activism. Twenty million Americans turned out to demonstrate on our first ever Earth Day on April 22.
That December, following our first Earth Day, Congress authorized the creation of whole new federal agency, now known as the Environmental Protection Agency to work on the rampant environmental issues in the United States.
Since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated each year by Americans, and has expanded worldwide. It has even developed into Earth Week in many locations. There are a lot of different ways to celebrate our planet and everything it provides. Here are my top five favorite ways to celebrate Earth Day:
Avoid driving your car: Give that automobile a break. Take the Summit Stage, walk, bike, rollerblade or skateboard to work and your favorite destinations. Set a goal to avoid your car for the day, the whole week, or even longer!
Plant a tree: Planting a native species in your yard or the forest can be a great way to give back to the planet. Check out local garden centers such as Alpine Earth Center or Neils Lunsford for recommendations and planting instructions.
Go zero waste: See how long you can go without throwing anything away. By being a conscientious buyer, you can reduce the waste you have to begin with. Consider buying in bulk or think about the packaging used with certain products. Try reusing items you might otherwise just throw away. HC3 offers a residential compost drop off program with locations in Breckenridge and Frisco. Check out HighCountryConservation.org to sign up for composting. Finally, good old recycling can really reduce how much waste goes to the landfill. Bone up on your recycling knowledge and make sure you know what can and cannot be recycled.
Eat local: How local can you go? Try to increase the amount of foods you buy that are from the U.S. If you want go more local, look for foods produced in Colorado. This is a great goal to hold onto for the summer time when you can go to local farmers markets and garden at home. Consider taking a canning class to learn how to save your local edibles for winter when it is harder to find homegrown foods.
Support an environmental nonprofit: Last but not least, check out what local environmental nonprofits, such as the High Country Conservation Center, are up to. This year, HC3 is hosting Party for the Planet at Pug Ryan’s in Dillon. Doors open at 5 p.m. and $15 gets you in for some great live music, two beers, and some delicious appetizers. Kids 12 years or younger are only $5. You can nominate your favorite eco-friendly person or business to be recognized at the event. Check out HighCountryConservation.org for more information and to submit your nominations.
However you decide to celebrate Earth Day this Tuesday, April 22, make sure to keep the spirit alive all year long. Set a goal for yourself and your family to make a difference for our planet for every day of the year. We live in such a beautiful place and it deserves to be taken care of. Happy Earth Day Summit County!
Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at firstname.lastname@example.org.