Celebrating Earth Day
So, what’s Earth Day all about?
Here’s some history.
The founder of Earth Day, Senator Gaylord Nelson, explained that the seed was planted in his head over a period of seven years — beginning in 1962. For a long time it was bothering him that environmental issues were never brought up in American political discussions. Then, in September 1969, when Nelson was on a conservation speaking engagement out West, he noticed all the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, and decided to organize a massive grassroots protest. The response was overwhelming. Telegrams, letters, and phone calls poured in. Nelson stated, “The American people finally had a forum to express their concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air — and they did so with spectacular exuberance.”
Five months before Earth Day began, on November 30th, 1969, The New York Times published an article detailing the massive number of environmental events that were cropping up on college campuses. They even stated that environmental awareness “may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam.” So clearly, it wasn’t that the American people didn’t care — it was just that prior to Nelson’s initiative, they didn’t know how and where to express themselves. So, the spring of 1970 came along…and April 22nd became national Earth Day. Its success was due to the efforts of the schools and local communities…and to this day Earth Day continues to be celebrated in the classroom, through a variety of different projects and activities.
How to commemorate:
On the website, www.nature.org/earthday, the Nature Conservancy, a leading conservation organization, is planning an event called Picnic for the Planet. They are asking people to donate, attend, or host a picnic in honor of Earth Day, to spend time outside and celebrate nature. They list 10 ways to make it a “green” picnic, offering eco-friendly suggestions, also providing information about food conservation and picnic food recipes.
Another way to contribute is by switching to reusable products. Chipotle Mexican Grill is offering a free meal on April 22nd with one catch: customers have to purchase a recyclable lunch bag by April 14th. The company estimates that for every 20,000 lunch bags made from recyclable products, landfills are spared about 78,000 square feet of waste.
There are also a number of other ways to get involved:
1) Start turning off lights, computers and other appliances when you leave the house.
2) Use public transportation, car-pool, walk or ride a bike more often.
3) Avoid plastic bags when possible.
4) Set up recycling bins at the office.
5) Stop using Styrofoam cups that don’t decompose in landfills.
6) Start using your own coffee thermos and reusable water bottle.
7) Participate in a litter clean-up.
8) Plant a tree in your backyard.
9) Go on a nature hike.
10) Create a vegetable garden.
For more ideas, and how kids can get involved, check out:
Only a couple more weeks until Earth Day! Make the most of it this year and have fun!