Earth Day is coming up and this year, it falls on Monday, April 22. Believe it or not, it is an actual holiday, unlike International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Although, even that is questionably a holiday since you used to be able to get free donuts at Krispy Kreme if you used a pirate voice. Earth Day, on the other hand, is an often forgotten day. Here’s what you can do to celebrate Earth Day this year.
The concept of Earth Day began in the 70s. Prior to the first Earth Day, people weren’t blind to the effects of pollution, but rather celebrated them as a sign of success. More pollution meant more business which meant more money. The idea started with Gaylord Nelson, who became concerned with environmental issues after witnessing the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. He started to advocate for a better environment by teaching and educating people at lectures and events. People began to take action in keeping the world more healthy. The groups went to streets, parks, and many other places to talk about living a more healthy, sustainable lifestyle for themselves and the earth, and we can do the same today.
Around the United States and the world, there are many Earth Day events that include festivities, lectures, petitions, and commitments to living healthier. Taking action to living healthier can mean many things. One suggestion is driving less if you’re a walkable distance to your destination. Not only is it good for the earth, it’s also better for your wallet. Driving is known to cause pollution, greenhouse gasses, throwing harmful chemicals into the air, and creating poor air quality. Driving alone produces 27 percent of greenhouse gases. Another option is to switch to a hybrid car, which emits 75 to 90 percent less pollution than regular cars, and they are growing in affordability.
Another thing you can do is educate yourself on the environmental issues that plague us. There are many books on various topics, but the OG environmental health book is Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. It came out in 1962 and greatly helped spread the start of Earth Day. Other great books include Essentials of Environmental Health by Robert H. Friis, Environmental Health by D. W. Moeller, and Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity by Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein.
Many people only dedicate Earth Day to making a big change, but even that helps. People pledge to not use electricity on Earth Day, sign petitions to starting new, healthier lifestyles, and support different parades and events focused on the environment. Along with cars producing a lot of pollution and greenhouse gasses, another big offender is deforestation. Because of this, some people plant things, like trees, to help grow more vegetation and support air quality.
Another simple change you can make is with your toothbrush, shopping bags, water bottles, and plasticware. These things have at least two things in common. One is that they are all made out of plastic, and the other is that they often end up in the ocean. This harms many animals and even kills them. Plastic isn’t biodegradable, so when you toss something plastic away, it goes into a big pile of junk to burn, which pollutes the air (also it’s just really gross). Instead of using plastic things, buy a bamboo toothbrush which has much less plastic and is biodegradable. Instead of using regular shopping bags, purchase a reusable bag. Use metal or any other kind of reusable bottle instead of the packaged bottles from the store. It may be more convenient, but you’ll end up saving more money this way. Lastly, there are many ways to stop using plasticware, like utensils and straws. First, you can switch to metal items, or you can use corn starch, sugar cane/birch wood, jowar, or leaf-based straws and utensils.
One thing is for sure, the littlest of changes, even if it’s just on one day of the year, have a great impact on the environment, and ultimately, your well-being. Take action this year to help in making a healthier world for everyone.