Ways to Educate And Take Action On Earth DayCreated on
Earth Day originated in 1969 when Senator Gaylord Nelson, junior senator from Wisconsin, witnessed the ravages of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, Senator Nelson wanted to infuse the energy of student anti-war protests with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution. He and Congressman Pete McCloskey recruited Denis Hayes, a young activist, to organize campus teach-ins. They chose April 22 to maximize student participation.
Earth Day inspired 20 million Americans (10% of the total population of the US at the time) to demonstrate against the effects of industrial development, which had left a growing legacy of serious human health concerns. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the destruction of the environment and there were massive rallies in cities, towns, and communities across the US. At the end of 1970, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the passing of the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act. In 1990, Earth Day mobilized 200 million people in 141 countries and raised awareness for environmental issues globally.
In this blog, we’ll talk about some ways to educate yourself and others about sustainability and celebrate Earth Day with the children around you.
We’ve talked about how eating a plant-based diet can ease the environmental impact of animal agriculture on the planet. Eating plant-based for just one month decreases your carbon footprint in half compared to someone who eats meat. Start with “Meatless Monday” or take part in Veganuary, and work to decrease your meat and dairy intake.
Clothing manufacturing uses large amounts of water and chemicals that make their way into the environment. Avoid fast fashion by buying pieces that will last or shopping second-hand.
Avoid using and buying disposable things like plastic bags, straws and cutlery. Having reusable utensils, straws, and grocery bags will reduce the need for single-use consumption.
You can also endorse the Plant-Based Treaty or volunteer with or donate to a local environmental organization in your area.
Taking part in climate strikes and getting to know local environmental organizations in your area are easy ways to get involved in community action.
The Great Global Cleanup® is a worldwide campaign to remove billions of pieces of trash from neighborhoods, beaches, rivers, lakes, trails, and parks to reduce waste and plastic pollution, improve habitats, and prevent harm to wildlife and humans. Find a cleanup happening in your area, or start one and register it with EarthDay.org.
We’re losing forests at a staggering 18+ million acres of forests every year—the equivalent of about 27 soccer fields every minute. The Canopy Project plants trees to benefit local communities, increase habitat for species, and combat climate change. You can also take part in a tree planting program in your area.
The Global Earth Challenge™ is an app (on Android and iOS devices) that fuels the world’s largest citizen science effort. It lets you gather important scientific data and measure air quality and plastic pollution, with more data to come.
Governments can lead powerful action for the environment, but they need to hear from citizens to take action. Whether it’s calling for a Global Plastics Treaty, protecting the Endangered Species Act, telling businesses to stop deforestation (often triggered by animal agriculture), or enacting legislation on the fashion industry, there are many ways to advocate to your local or federal government on behalf of the environment.
Celebrating Earth Day with children
Educating the children around you about the importance of Earth Day is another way to celebrate. Here are some ideas:
- Walk around a park or forest and point out plants, flowers, mushrooms, trees, and animals
- Create or tend a garden
- Start a seed jar so kids can see something grow
- Make art out of recycled items and/or paper, magazines, and newspapers
- Donate or upcycle old toys and other household items
- Take a trip to a trash or recycling facility
- Visit websites to take a virtual tour of national parks
- Read Earth-related books
You can also see if there are Earth Day events organized in your area.
For more ideas on how to celebrate Earth Day, visit earthday.org.