“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” — Jane Goodall
Earth Day is a time to reflect and be thankful for everything the Earth does for us. It is also a time to strengthen our relationship with nature, to give back, and to think of ways we can work to better support the Earth for future generations.
The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970, a monumental day that is widely credited for launching the modern environmental movement. 20 million Americans from all walks of life participated in the very first Earth Day, and the passage of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and several other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. Twenty years later, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage.
This year, Earth Day 2018 is dedicated to ending plastic pollution. “From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of our planet.” In response, Earth Day 2018 is committed to providing the information and inspiration needed to fundamentally change human attitudes and behaviors surrounding plastics.
At the root of every Earth Day is the long-term goal of global sustainability. Every day, we make decisions about what natural minerals to use, how fast to use them, and what to do with them when we’re done. All of these decisions have a unique impact on the environment. The choices we make today, big or small, will impact the future. Therefore, our choices must ensure that social institutions, the economy, and the environment will be well-supported for future generations.
More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. While it would be nice if we all lived as if everyday was Earth Day, this holiday serves as a friendly reminder each year, to respect the Earth and to show a little gratitude to Mother Nature.
What you can do:
Change your consumption habits. Think critically about your consumption habits and be open to improvement. Sustainability begins with the recognition that all of us depend on a healthy environment to provide us with our basic human needs: air, water, food, and shelter. Challenge your ideas of wants and needs, recognizing that everything comes from nature-and will have to go back to nature at some point. Be mindful about the resources you consume, including electricity, water, food, and any other material goods that you purchase. Do your best to avoid unnecessary packaging, plastic water bottles, single-use cups, plates, and silverware, and all things disposable.
Examine your worldview and the worldviews of those around you. Consider knowledge, abilities, values, and behavior. How do these worldviews impact the way we live our lives and the way we treat our environment?
Connect with nature. Get outside! Get to know your local forest, ocean, freshwater, and urban outdoor areas and enjoy them for recreation. Get in the habit of noticing and enjoying nature all around you, whether you live in the city, the suburbs, or the country. Nature is all around us. Think about and reflect on the many ways that nature contributes to your well being.
Care for your local park or beach. Leave no trace! When you visit your local park or beach, leave it the same or better than you found it.
Speak out. Advocate for the conservation of endangered species and forest habitat.
Volunteer. Seek out programs that support sustainability and leadership in your community, and encourage others to do so too!