Celebrate Earth Day April 22
Earth Day 2020 theme is "Climate Action"
On April 22, 1970, 20 million people (nearly 10% of the world's population at the time) took to streets, parks, and auditoriums all across America to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. It was the first ever Earth Day.
Now, a half century later, Earth Day is the largest secular observance in the world, with more than a billion people taking part in activities and celebrations every year.
Earth Day 2020’s official theme is "Climate Action". That theme was chosen for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, because officials believe climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable. It is a broad topic--that will require a global effort to address, as it does not just affect a single group, or speicies, or ecosystem. Instead, it is a problem that has tentacles stretching everywhere.
Of course, while humans may be responsible for much of the climate change, habitat loss, and species loss…we are also not immune to its effects. We only have one planet, and the world is a complex place. What seems like a small change or an insignificant loss can set off an interrelated chain of events, resulting in a severely depleted ecosystems that cannot be replenished—let alone sustain and replenish human needs.
Says Denis Hayes, the organizer of the first Earth Day in 1970 and Earth Day Network’s Board Chair Emeritus, "Despite the amazing success [of the passage of landmark environmental laws such as the U.S.'s Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. and the U.N.'s Paris Climate Agreement] and decades of environmental progress, we find ourselves facing an even more dire, almost existential, set of global environmental challenges, from loss of biodiversity to climate change to plastic pollution, that call for action at all levels of government."
Says Earth Day Network president Kathleen Rogers, "We find ourselves today in a world facing global threats that demand a unified global response. For Earth Day 2020, we will build a new generation of environmentalist activists, engaging millions of people worldwide."
Those are some pretty big statements...but at its heart, Earth Day has always been about the power of the individual to make a difference on the world, and how even the smallest changes can have big impacts.
It's easier than you think to get started. Looking for inspiration? Here are a few ways to get your "green" on this April 22—and all year long!
We get it--Earth Day (heck, every day, lately) is different this year. And some of the tips we'd normally suggest (and still DO suggest for later on, when we're back to a more normal life) might have to wait a bit. But that doesn't mean we can't do anything. EarthDay.org has a bunch of great ways to celebrate the day digitally. You can find at-home, digital Acts of Green to support a better planet on their website. Find out how to join or lead an online climate change community discussion; host (or attend) a teach-in about 50 years of Earth Day; download the Earth Challenge 2020 app to become a "citizen scientist" and monitor your own corner of the globe; or simply see the daily action for today on what you can do at home to help.
Check out EarthDay.Org’s tool kit and primer section. This collection of toolkits is filled with information about not just climate change, but species in need of protection, conservation efforts, plastic pollution, and ways you personally can minimize your disturbance on theplanet and limit your carbon footprint.
How can you help? Here are a few ways:
Take the pesticide pledge!
Pollinators are one of the most critical species in the world—they help keep us (and other animals) fed! Without pollinators, we would run out of food quickly.We need pollinators to ensure the persistence of our crop yields and ensure healthy sustainable ecosystems now and in the future. By stopping your use of pesticides, you can help protect our bees (and other pollinating insects)--and our planet!
Teach your children well.
Hug (and plant) a tree.
Deforestation contributes to species extinction, poverty, and global greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Planting a tree (or many trees!) is an easy way to reduce carbon dioxide, a principal greenhouse gas. Plus, trees provide wildlife habitats, shade buildings and help conserve energy, can prevent erosion, and keep streams and rivers clean. That’s a lot of benefit from a simple action!
Look around your home
Develop G-R-R-R-R-Reat Habits
Plastic is the most prevalent type of pollution in our oceans and in the Great Lakes—and it takes a toll on the denizens of our seas and waterways. And while some of the plastics floating about are large, much of it is extremely tiny.
Microplastics—the name for these tiny bits of debris—are small plastic pieces less than five millimeters long and can be harmful to aquatic life—and may even make its way up the food chain (through a process called bioaccumulation) into other organisms, including humans.
Microplastics come from a variety of sources, including the gradual degradation of larger plastic chunks, or from plastic-based fabrics such as polyester and nylon that shed plastic fibers when washed.
The good thing about all of this is there is a lot we can do in our everyday lives to cut down on the amount of microplastics in our waters. Practicing the 5R’s: Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, Recycle, and Remove is a great way to help cut down on the Plastic Pollution Problem.
• Reduce the amount of plastics you use—for example, at the grocery store, if you are faced with choosing between two similar products, select the one with minimal (or no) plastic packaging. Grab individual bell peppers, for example, instead of the three peppers packaged together in a bag and on a tray. Transport your produce in a reusable mesh bag, instead of using one of the plastic bags from the dispenser.
• Refuse plastics you don’t need. Think about the plastic you see in trash—much of it is frequently discarded, short-lifecycle items that are those given to us for free. Think of plastic straws at a restaurant or plastic bags at the grocery store. Next time you sit down for dinner at your favorite eatery, tell the waitperson “hold the straw” before they bring out your water or soda. Buying a pack of socks or a sweater at a department store? Tell them “no, thanks” when they put that single item in a plastic bag.
• Reuse and repurpose common household items. Use mesh or canvas bags at the grocery store. Buy a refillable water bottle instead of buying bulk cases of bottled water. Hold a clothing swap—it can be a fun, free way for friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors, and the like to find new wardrobe finds. If you’re crafty, find a way to re-use or upcycle your items into something new altogether. Try making a flower planter out of an old tire.
• Recycle the plastic you DO use when you are done with it. Make sure you are following the rules of the community, town, or city in which you live and only recycle items that are truly recyclable. If you are unsure about an item, don’t try to recycle it as it will only slow the sorting process. Recycling rules are not uniform, and can vary quite a bit—even within the same city. Before recycling, make sure you understand your local programs, what can and can’t be recycled, and if you need to sort and/or wash recyclables first. Check out Iwanttoberecycled.org to learn more about options in your area.
• Remove plastic pollutants from the environment when you find it. April 22 is a great time to start your efforts! Most cities have events celebrating Earth Day. Search for activities happening near you, or visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency Earth Day page to find some events and volunteer opportunities in your area. Can’t find an organized activity near you? Start one yourself! Get a group of friends together, don your reflective vests and gloves, and pick up litter (and recycle what you can) in your neighborhood or in a park nearby.
Finally…Make Every Day Earth Day
For more than a century, our parent company headquarters have been adjacent to the banks of the St. Croix—a federally protected National Wild & Scenic River. This connection instills an unyielding respect and appreciation for the irreplaceable value of nature. Our commitment to environmental stewardship is truly in our nature, and we try and remember that EVERY day is Earth Day.
We hope that these tips help you feel that same way…and making the effort doesn’t have to be a major upheaval in your life. There are small things you can do every day, from recycling your soda bottle to saying no to a straw when you’re eating out. From making upcycled craft projects with your kids to choosing minimally packaged produce the next time you’re out shopping… Anything to help our environment is a perfect thing to do on Earth Day and every day. Don't restrict yourself to just one day a year—you can truly make a difference to environmental protection all the time!
If you want to learn more about the history of Earth Day and other ideas of how you can improve your community and our earth, visit A Billion Acts of Green or check out our Make Every Day Earth Day infographic!
Visit our website to learn more information about Renewal by Andersen’s environmental commitment.