Making Earth Day Every Day: Musings on Helping Our Planet
On Saturday, April 23, I did outreach for the State initiative program, Energy Upgrade California® at the Placerville Library Earth Day event. It was my first outreach venue since joining Sierra Business Council in July of last year. It was a blast speaking with attendees and finding out what their energy practices and interests were, as we all work together to meet California’s energy efficiency goals.
Earth Day is usually celebrated worldwide on April 22, and it’s a reminder to us all to protect our environment and take steps to keep our Earth safe for future generations. On Earth Day, I always wear green and make an extra effort to spend more time in the outdoors, appreciating the vast, magnificent natural surroundings I live in.
Part of that appreciation to me means we should all take steps to ensure the protection of our planet, such as carpool, go feet first and walk, ride a bike or even take public transportation when possible. Little steps matter such as recycling, but isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
In my new home city of Reno, I’ve found it’s a big challenge to recycle as Reno has no real citywide recycling program. For example, there’s no recycling at our apartment complex, so my husband, Andy, goes the extra step each week to take our recyclables to the transfer station on his way to work. For decades, Andy has been so dedicated to the recycling cause, to the point where he picks up stray or discarded bottles and cans on the roadside or while we are hiking on trails.
Reducing means consuming less, and we try to save on unnecessary bags, packaging, etc. And of course all of us know we need to reduce our water use, since even with a good winter of precipitation, we still have a long way to recover after four severe drought years.
As I think about Earth Day, it reminds me of growing up in Los Angeles when my parents took us to Love-ins. I am sure I’m dating myself, but Love-ins were held mostly in the 1960s. People gathered to celebrate life, nature and the appreciation of the planet. It was a peaceful movement celebrated with music, dance and poetry, and my sense is that Earth Day probably can trace some of its roots to this part of our pop culture.
Curious about the founding of Earth Day, I did some research and on websites such as EarthSky.com and Earthday.org. The first Earth Day celebration in the U.S. took place on April 22, 1970, which marked the beginning of what we know today as the modern environmental movement. Approximately 20 million Americans came out to celebrate this day and take a stand, raising consciousness about environmental issues such as oil spills, pollution, power plants, toxic dumps, pesticides and so much more. The late Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin) has been credited for starting the first Earth Day.
With Earth Day paving the way, environmental laws followed such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many others. With the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency in December 1970, the environmental movement entered a new phase, with a strong federal effort to curb environmental decay across the nation. During the 1970s, the pace quickened. Environmental reform and conservation organizations began to take more active stances on a widening range of issues. They brought in lawyers, scientists and economists to add more detail to the simple, general concepts and ideas that came out of Earth Day 1970.
By Earth Day 1990, the Earth Day movement had gone global, and 200 million people in more than 141 countries observed the occasion. Today, more than 1 billion people participate in Earth day activities worldwide.
I like to think that “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” was inspired by Earth Day. While protecting the planet is something that happens on a grand scale, it really comes down to all of us as individuals doing what we can wherever we are. In other words, if we all “Think Global, Act Local,” as the saying goes, we can have a collective impact that stretches from our own neighborhood to all points on the planet. And not just on Earth Day, but every day.