On the 22nd of April each year, earthlings across the globe celebrate a phenomenally important event – Earth Day, conceived in 1969 by an American senator Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin who was inspired to action after witnessing the ravages of a destructive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Realising that he could use the momentum of energy created from the nationwide student anti-war movement to infuse the public consciousness with facts about issues surrounding pollution, Earth Day was borne with the goal of creating awareness and appreciation for environmental issues, ultimately enforcing protection onto a global political agenda.
Widely regarded as the beginning of a modern environmental movement, Earth Day has largely been considered as one of the most recognizable platforms for ecological progress. This annual event surged onto a global platform in 1990, gaining platforms in 141 countries, and it is currently celebrated in more than 193 countries worldwide, coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.
It was therefore little surprise that in 1995, then American President Bill Clinton awarded Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest possible honor given to civilians in the United States, for his role as the founder of Earth Day.
Today, as the global struggle for protecting a clean natural environment continues with increasing urgency, and as the ravages of climate change become more apparent each day, there are a rapidly growing number of groups and organizations that continue to fight against multiple issues, including but not limited to, the prevention of oil spills and industrial air pollution, rampant use of pesticides, the loss of nature and wilderness leading to the extinction of wildlife as well as the importance of controlled energy consumption.
The dedication of Earth Day 2017 to Environmental & Climate Literacy aims to focus on providing informed literature and educational tools that can empower global citizens with the knowledge that can inspire action for environmental protection.
Observed by more than a billion people annually on the 22nd of April, we can all certainly find ways to contribute to this worthy cause, however minute the effort may seem. Finding small yet significant ways to conserve, re-use, protect and sustain the environment, along with nurturing an appreciation for our place on Earth, can provide us with the first essential steps to helping us learn to remain eco-conscious for the rest of the year, and for the remaining time to come.
Take the opportunity to give your car a break for a day, or maybe even a week. Make plans to find alternative ways to commute with eco-friendly modes like walking or riding a bike, taking the bus, train or even roller blading! At the very least, it reminds us of our over-reliance on motorized transportation.
Home Energy Auditing
While cars certainly contribute significantly to carbon dioxide emissions, it is buildings that can claim to be the greatest culprit. The application of Earth Day can begin at home, with ways to improve energy efficiency and maximize output.
While technology has been widely used to improve the lives of billions of people, we can choose to do this sustainably by building and supporting services that use resources efficiently and responsibly. For example, consider replacing old light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescents, halogen incandescents, or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Traditional incandescent bulbs, besides costing more and contributing to higher levels of pollution, also generate a lot of heat, which could add to inefficiency within energy consumption.
We might recognize the importance of recycling glass, paper and plastics in the effort to minimizing negative effects of pollution, and also be familiar with the advice and recommendations widely available to us, but what about other forms of composting?
Composting not only recycles kitchen waste, but is also a commonly utilized conditioner for potting soil. Fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, leaves, grass, garden plants, flowers, coffee grounds, tea leaves and wood chips can all be composted successfully.
In a world dominated by factory farms and fast food chains, the joy of experiencing food that you have grown with your own hands can not only be vastly satisfying, it can also be life-changing. Take the time on Earth Day to plant something that can be consumed readily. It might be pots of mint or basil on the windowsill, or an avocado seed in your backyard, there’s no plant too small that won’t yield great satisfaction in the near future.
With the ability to suck up carbon dioxide that causes the buildup of greenhouse gases while trapping heat resulting in global warming, planting vegetation is undoubtedly one of the most important gifts we can give back to the planet and to ourselves.
There is no better way to re-connect with Mother Earth than to spend time outdoors to help enhance the appreciation of Earth and relish in all of its beauty. Take a hike, ride a bike, find an ocean to swim in, organize a picnic or develop gardening skills! The aim is to get outdoors, breathe in the fresh air and feel the sun on your cheeks, rejuvenating your soul and absorbing some vitamin D in the process.
Ultimately, Earth Day recognizes a collective responsibility to promote harmony within nature and highlights the need to achieve a balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity. It also presents us with an opportunity to increase our awareness about how we can find ways to better protect the environment, making every day Earth Day.
Happy Earth Day from all of us at Banbayu!