Celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year, Earth day began as a day focused on educating people about environmental issues. Years before the first official holiday, the effects of pollution on the environment was becoming a concern. With no political agenda to protect the planet’s natural resources or landscapes, the rise in industrialism was only increasing the amount of pollutants in the air. In 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson developed the idea of Earth Day where he envisioned a large-scale, grassroots demonstration against the wastefulness of America’s natural resources. On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans rallied for a more sustainable environment from coast-to-coast. After the first Earth Day, the United States Environmental Protection Agency was created as well as the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Twenty years later, in 1990, global Earth Day was proposed mobilizing over 100 countries to make an effort to save the environment. The fight for a clean environment and healthy earth continues with more urgency as the effects of our human lives on the earth becomes more apparent each year.
Each year, Earth day is centered on a specific theme of how to care for the Earth. In 1970, Earth day was dedicated to environmental and climate literacy. Fifty years later, in 2020, the topic for change is climate action. While many people have tried to disprove the warming of our planet or deny the effect of greenhouse gases occurring from human activity, scientists have gathered a mass of evidence to prove it is a serious concern for the health of our environment.
Here are a few things the Earth day campaign recommends to begin to save our planet:
Learn more about how you are contributing to climate change and different ways to mitigate it in your day to day life. You can take a carbon footprint quiz here. Learn about why climate change is happening and stay up to date on environmental issues in the news.
Consider how candidates are advocating for the care of our planet and their plans at local, national and global levels.
Support companies driven by sustainability and transparency. As a consumer, do your research on how companies are impacting the planet. Consider shopping for used items to save a bit of money and minimize the amount of material going into landfills each week. Additionally, try to plan out your meals ahead of time before you go shopping to reduce the amount of food you end up not eating.
Use energy wisely
There are many small things we can do to mitigate climate change, all together they really add up. Try to make it a habit to unplug things when they are not in use and consider switching to energy-efficient light bulbs. Additionally, wash your clothes in cold or warm water and if you can, hang-dry your clothes.
Recycle and Compost
Austin is already taking steps to make the city more green from plastic bag policies to the recycle and compost bins the majority of Austin residents are now provided with. Using these resources takes only a couple more seconds out of your day, but can leave a major impact on the environment.
-Read a book outside
-Read a book about geology
-Go for a walk
-Go for a jog
-Go for a bike ride
-Walk or bike to work (once you’re no longer working from home of course)
-Plant a small garden
-Pick up trash in your neighborhood or throughout your city (wear gloves or buy a grabber tool)
-Make a birdhouse and fill it with seed
-Go for a hike at a state park (Texas state parks are open for day use right now – find more info here)
-Go stand-up paddle boarding
-Do a workout outside
-Eat dinner outside
-Play an outdoor sport with your family (tennis, volleyball, basketball, soccer etc.)
-Play a yard game outside (Spike ball, corn hole, ladder golf, washers
-Take a nap in a hammock in your backyard
-Buy reusable products to help reduce plastic waste (i.e. storage bags, water bottle, grocery bags, produce bags, straws)
-Participate in a Global sustainability challenge
-Learn more how to mitigate our effects on the earth
-Watch an Earth documentary
-Check out a National Park you’ve always wanted to visit virtually
-Do a virtual field trip with your kids
-Try a hands-on earth science activity
-Research and sponsor an endangered species
-Plant a small garden
-Start a compost
-Swap packaged processed snacks for fresh fruit or package free options
-Donate to Earth Day Austin, The Trail Foundation or other local organizations that support sustainability or the outdoors
-Donate to an organization fighting climate change
–Call congress and ask them to take action on climate change
-Make list on ways you can reduce your water use and paper use
-Make a plan on how you can reduce your energy usage
-Make a zero waste plan
-Donate old electronics to the Austin Resource Recovery Center, or any other local electronic recycling organization
-Donate unused or old clothing to resale shops
-Buy second-hand clothing and products
-Go camping in your own backyard for the night
-Swap disposable kitchen and bath products for reusable versions
-Make DIY products like deodorant, soap, shampoo, household cleaner
-Learn more about what Austin is doing to support our plant and how to get involved
-Swap your regular light bulbs out for LED Light Bulbs
-Consider installing Solar panels to your home
-Make an earth day window sign to encourage activism in your neighborhood
-Meditate or do some yoga outside
–Read an e-book or listen to an audio book with Austin’s Virtual Library
-Research tips for keeping your produce for longer
-Switch to paperless billing on all your accounts