Every year, Earth Day–April 22nd–marks the beginning of the modern day environmental movement. In the United States, Earth Day’s seeds were planted in 1970 when large leaded gas guzzling cars and industry polluted the air, water and soil at an unprecedented level. The environment and the link between public health and pollution slowly began to seep into the public consciousness.
The idea came from Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson who was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. Inspired by young people who were making their voices heard in many political and social issues Nelson, along with conservation-minded Republican Congressman Denis Hayes introduced the idea to the media. Momentum gathered and on April 22nd, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets and trails across the country demanding a healthy environment in which to thrive.
Today Earth Day is observed in 192 countries worldwide, all coordinated by the Earth Day Network, chaired by organizer Denis Hayes. Earth Day Network estimates more than a billion people celebrate Earth Day each year.
So how can you make a difference and embrace our home planet? Here are 10 ways to make your corner of the globe a healthier place to thrive.
- Switch To Reusable Bags. You’ve heard it before but if you haven’t already, start greening up your store trips today. Each year the world uses 500 billion plastic bags, many of which end up in waterways and the ocean killing wildlife and polluting the water we drink.
- Volunteer. Get involved with local environmental nonprofits and volunteer opportunities to plant trees, clean up parks or maintain trails. For a list of events and ways to get involved visit the Earth Day Network.
- Speak Up. Make your voice heard when decisions at a local or national level must be made that impact the environment. We all want clean air and water so make sure the environment also has a seat at the table.
- Seal Home Leaks. As you heat or cool your home some of that precious air escapes causing your systems to work harder and use more energy. It’s estimated that in the United States, of the annual average $2,000 energy bill, nearly $400 of that is wasted because of leaks. Caulking areas where leaks are discovered is a simple solution that can both save you money and help the environment.
- Drive Less. On short trips either walk or bike to your destination. Not only is this great exercise but you are helping to cut climate change driving greenhouse gasses from being put into the air.
- Unplug Energy Vampires. Many people leave their appliances plugged in when not in use. One of the easiest ways you can make a difference for the environment is to unplug those laptops, hair dryers and phone chargers. Why? Even when not turned on, while appliances are plugged in, they are still pulling power from the grid.
- Know Where Your Energy Comes From. The cleanest forms of energy are from solar and wind. Many energy companies all over the world allow you to choose your energy source or even install solar on your own property which over the long haul can save you money. Contact your energy provider today to explore your options.
- Eat Your Veggies. Did you know that 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the meat industry? A growing movement of Meatless Mondays is making a real difference. Every year you go meatless just one day a week, is the equivalent to taking your car off the road for 320 miles. Oxford University recently released a study that found simply adhering to dietary recommendations — scientists say 5 to 6 ounces of protein a day is a healthy level of consumption — would reduce global food-related emissions by a third by 2050.
- Buy Recycled Products. We’ve all heard of recycling. But what about buying and supporting companies that use recycled materials. Where to start? Buying recycled aluminum foil or aluminum products is one of the best ways to help create demand for this green product and save energy.
- Turn off Lights When You Leave The Room. This seems like common sense, but many people leave the lights on in the entire home all evening. Simply turning off lights when you leave the room saves valuable energy which in turn helps clean the very air we breathe.
A popular song featured in the new Up with People show is called “Home.” This song is our way of celebrating Earth Day everyday and calling attention to the planet we all should embrace. Happy Earth Day!
Check out the song “Home” below: