Earth Day

How Earth Day and Environmental Conciousness have Evolved

Reduce, reuse, recycle is a mantra for many people. It's difficult to imagine that just 50 years ago awareness of the state of the environment was not part of the collective consciousness.

An emerging public consciousness about the planet began amid environmental issues like increased air pollution and massive consumption of fossil fuels in the 1960s. The bestselling book "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson also raised public concern for living organisms and the links between pollution and public health. The push for environmental reform gained even more momentum on April 22, 1970, when the first Earth Day was celebrated. Then-Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin put Earth Day on the national stage following a large oil spill that struck off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif. Before this disaster, recycling was not a word in the popular lexicon. But when the disaster struck, people began to reason that changes would have to be made to save the planet.

Since the first Earth Day 50 years ago, many strides have been made in the environmental movement. This grassroots initiative gave rise to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Environmental awareness has become much more mainstream and is a less polarizing issue than it was in the 1970s, although there are still debates about the reality of climate change and other risk factors. Public demand for environmental safeguards grew in the second half of the twentieth century, and those demands have grown stronger in recent years. Legislation is continually evolving to protect the air, land and water. Sustainability has joined the buzzwords of the movement, and most industries now have a vested interest in changes that can minimize risk to human health and the environment.

Mitigating or avoiding environmental effects, proper waste disposal, reduction in water discharge, and emphasis on reducing, reusing and recycling have become important components of environmental wellness. And people are being educated at earlier stages on the importance of environmental mindfulness. For example, core subjects of the environmental movement are increasingly covered in elementary schools.

Twenty million people turned out for the first Earth Day in the United States. Today, more than 190 countries are engaged and more than one billion individuals are mobilized for action every Earth Day, advises the Earth Day Network. To mark the 50th anniversary, the most pressing topic for the year is climate change. Climate Action is the 2020 Earth Day theme to engage the global public. There is still work to be done, but great progress has been made since 1970.

 

MEANINGFUL, FUN WAYS TO CELEBRATE EARTH DAY

Earth Day is a celebration of the planet that people, plants and animals call home. Earth Day was established to demonstrate support for environmental protection, and events are held each year on April 22. It is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and celebrated in more than 193 countries.

People may wonder what they can do at a local level to make Earth Day a larger part of their lives. Here are just a few great ways to embrace Earth Day.

  • Make it a point to bike or walk to school or work. If conditions are prohibitive, carpool to cut down on traffic. The fewer cars on the road, the less emissions in the air.
  • Recycle e-waste in your home. E-waste is considered outdated electronic appliances that are no longer used. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests e-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world.
  • Invest in a reusable coffee cup or water bottle. This can reduce the amount of trash that ultimately ends up in the environment.
  • Connect with nature by turning off electronics for the day and getting outside. Head to a park or nature trail and immerse yourself in the great outdoors.
  • Do something as simple as switching paper statements and bills to e-bills and online invoices. This reduces reliance on trees for new sources of paper.
  • Grow some edibles in your home garden or even on a windowsill. This is a fun, eco-friendly way to control the foods you consume at home and a great way to save money as well.
  • Reusing and recycling does not just pertain to water bottles and aluminum cans. Find out ways to repurpose or share items with others so they get more mileage. Also, make use of sharing services like bike sharing kiosks or Yerdle, an online community sharing marketplace.· Volunteer your time at an organization that has an environmental focus. Or suggest a task with an eco-friendly slant, like picking up trash from a beach, to a local community group or club.

Earth Day is a great opportunity to get involved with environmental efforts. 

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