Ask Eartha: Make every day Earth Day
These are interesting times, to say the least. How do you recommend celebrating Earth Day this year?
The coronavirus outbreak sure has put the kibosh on our collective fun — proms and graduations are canceled, ski resorts are closed, happy hours with friends are now virtual. And Earth Day — my favorite holiday — couldn’t be celebrated with the in-person festivities we’re used to.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate! If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past month, it’s that we’re innovative people. When told to stay at home, we find new ways to stay in touch with family and friends and get our work done. So here’s how I celebrated Earth Day this year.
50 years of Earth Day
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The history and spirit of Earth Day teach us that this movement is about more than one day, week or even month; it’s about advocating for a more sustainable future every day of the year.
The first Earth Day began as a call to action. The decades leading up to Earth Day were plagued with pollution in the United States. Cars belched emissions from leaded gasoline. Air pollution was normal. Waterways caught on fire from oil spills. And in 1962, Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring,” a book that alerted Americans to the connection between human and environmental health.
With environmental concern growing, two U.S. senators decided to organize an event to inspire action. On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans demonstrated against a legacy of pollution and environmental destruction. This was a watershed moment. That Earth Day in 1970 led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and our country’s foundational environmental laws. And the momentum didn’t stop there. So many environmental policies were enacted in the 1970s that it’s known as the “environmental decade.”
The first way I celebrate Earth Day is by remembering the work of environmental heroes who came before us.
Earth Day at home
Next, let’s think locally. How can we make our homes and communities more sustainable places to live and play?
- The High Country Conservation Center’s Climate Action Toolkit is a good place to start, suggesting a number of Earth-friendly actions that will help decrease your carbon footprint. Visit them at HighCountryConservation.org for details.
- Passionate about recycling? Keep track of your plastic waste for a week. Make a list of everything that can’t be recycled. Challenge yourself to find alternatives to those products.
- Get your kids involved. Ask them why it’s important to protect the planet. Draw pictures of the Earth and your favorite things in it.
- Go outside. Spending time outdoors is proven to reduce stress and anxiety — feelings a lot of us are struggling with lately. Plan time to engage in your favorite outdoor activity and pause for a few moments to consider why conservation is important to you.
- Watch an environmental documentary or TV show. Washington, D.C.’s Environmental Film Festival put its collection online for streaming. Many incredible films are available without a subscription. Find something that inspires you!
- Support your local community. Small businesses and nonprofits are vital to our community. If you’ve got the funds to spare, support your favorite local business, whether by buying a gift card or taking a night off cooking. You could even donate to the High Country Conservation Center, whose staff is still working hard to promote conservation in Summit County.
- Go online for more ideas. From virtual National Park and museum tours to engaging with the official Earth Day network, find dozens more ideas with some quick internet searching.
Make every day Earth Day
Don’t worry about scheduling these activities this week or even this month. Earth Day is a state of mind. Let’s start embracing the spirit of sustainability every day so that in the future Earth Day isn’t a call to action but a continued celebration of our successful efforts to make this planet a healthier place to live for everyone, everywhere.
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.
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