On April 22, the United States and other countries around the globe will celebrate Earth Day, a day dedicated to the preservation and protection of our planet. Fifty years after its founding, Earth Day has become more important than ever before thanks to rising CO2 levels and the increasing prevalence of climate change. While the coronavirus has prevented us from holding festivities or marches this year, we can nevertheless find other ways to celebrate Earth Day by focusing on our everyday practices. After all, even the smallest act can help our planet in significant ways.
The History of Earth Day
Fifty years ago, we celebrated our first Earth Day. It was the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson, an American politician and environmentalist from Wisconsin. Nelson spent years trying to pass environmental protection laws in Congress, and while he did make some success (such as Operation Mainstream and the Green Thumb project), he nevertheless struggled to raise awareness for environmental issues. While Americans were becoming increasingly aware of the effect pollution can have on our environment (thanks, in part, to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and the 1969 fire on Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River), it was not yet a national, political agenda. Factories were still filling our air and water supplies with pollutants, Americans were still driving around in big, gas-guzzling cars, and very few people were even aware of the practice of recycling. In 1969, however, Nelson came up with a new approach. Inspired by the protests of the 1960s, he came up with the idea of Earth Day, or, “a national teach-in on the environment.” It was held on April 22, 1970, and it’s been going strong ever since.
Ditch the plastic water bottles
Plastic water bottles look harmless on the surface, but they can actually pose a great risk to our environment. Just take a look at the numbers: the US alone produces about 50 billion plastic water bottles each year, and it takes 1000 years for plastic to decompose. That’s a lot of plastic entering our environment and never coming back out. And where does it all go? In landfills and in the ocean, ultimately being consumed by marine and wildlife, as well as ourselves. By decreasing our demand of plastic water bottles, however, we can decrease the amount that’s being produced and ultimately winding up in our rivers and oceans. This means switching to eco-friendly, reusable water bottles.
Make your home energy efficient
Our homes eat up a lot of energy. In fact, 40% of the energy consumed in the US goes to our homes and businesses. And, since the US largely relies on fossil fuels for energy, the result is a lot of greenhouse gases entering our atmosphere. You can help cut down on these greenhouse gases, though, by making your home more energy efficient. Buying LED light bulbs, using a programmable thermostat, and even installing solar panels are all ways you can make your home less wasteful.
Reduce your waste while grocery shopping
The decisions you make in the aisle or your local grocery store can have a larger impact on the world as a whole. For instance, you can use a reusable grocery bag or container instead of a plastic bag to reduce the amount of plastic waste. Additionally, think about how much food you actually need. Americans waste tons of food each year, often because they buy in bulk. Instead, opt for fruits or veggies that don’t come pre-packaged, or at the very least, store your leftovers in the freezer to prevent them from going bad.
Plant some trees
Trees can help reduce our carbon footprint, provide us oxygen, and improve our air quality. It’s why so many people across the globe go out to plant trees on Earth Day. While you can try your hand at physically planting a tree, you can also simply support the efforts of others by donating to organizations such as #teamtrees or One Tree Planted.
Start a garden
Gardening is a great past-time that can lower our stress levels and make us happier people. Not only can gardening help us as individuals, though, it can also help our environment. Whether it’s a backyard full of roses or just a few potted plants, the plants that we take care of can help to reduce greenhouse gases, noise pollution, erosion, and more. You can also try to grow fruits and vegetables to further cut back on the food waste mentioned above.
Here at Mills Florist, we believe that every act, no matter how small, can help to protect our planet and its environment. To learn more about what you can do this Earth Day, head over to the Earth Day website or contact us for more information.