“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” -John Muir
We are all connected to our environment as it provides us with the essentials in life: air, water, food and sunlight, and therefore, we must do what we can to keep it clean and livable for all. Earth Day serves as a day to educate the general public about the impact our society has on the environment.
Earth Day was started by founder Gaylord Nelson in 1969, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. After witnessing a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California that year, he called for a national “Environmental Teach-In” to invoke public consciousness about air and water pollution, specifically targeted at college students on campuses throughout the U.S.
As a result, on April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets and parks and publically rallied for a healthier and more sustainable environment. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment, highlighting issues like oil spills, pollution caused by factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways and the extinction of wildlife.
Earth Day in 1970 achieved a rare political event; it gained support from both Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
Even though Earth Day only comes once a year, it reminds us to be more conscientious about the environment and what we are doing to it. These eco-friendly practices should be applied throughout the year, not just on one day:
o Plant a vegetable garden if you have a yard. Growing vegetables instead of grass uses water and energy more wisely. If you live in an apartment, plant vegetables in containers on your balcony, or a community plot.
o Eat! Eat local, seasonal and organic food. Even eating vegetarian for a day can help. Avoid processed food as much as possible. Processed foods mean someone else manufactured it. That takes energy.
o Plant a tree or donate a tree.
How did you observe Earth Day on Sunday?