Let's talk about Earth Day!
Earth Day is celebrated around the world by more than a billion people each year. It is the largest non-religious international day of observance. However, Earth Day was not always popular. Earth Day is a relatively new holiday, one that in the span of almost 50 years has grown in importance and ability to affect change. In this blog post we will talk about how Earth Day began, why we celebrate it and how you can get involved.
Imagine for one moment that we are in the 1960’s. Things were quite different back then. Cars ran on heavily leaded petrol and big, loud engines were all the rage. Factories pumped dangerous smoke and fumes into the air and dirty, waste water into the oceans and rivers. Back then, people were not aware of the terrible impact these actions would have on the environment.
Gradually things started to change. People started to notice that the world around them wasn’t as clean as it used to be. In 1962, a woman named Rachel Carson wrote a book called “Silent Spring” which is often credited as starting the wave of awareness that would eventually result in Earth Day. Silent Spring sold over 500,000 copies and raised concerns about the environment. It explained in plain language how the environment impacts public health.
Let us jump forward to 1969. A massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California was wreaking havoc with the marine environment. The sea was a mess and birds, fish and other wildlife were dying as a result. This caught the attention of Wisconsin Senator, Gaylord Nelson. He devised a plan to force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson proposed a national “Teach-in” aimed to teach and raise awareness of environmental issues.
On April 22, 1970 over 20 million Americans took to the streets, filled parks and auditoriums to demonstrate for environmental protection. Rallies were held coast-to-coast and environmental groups came together with a single goal – protect our earth from pollution.
Due to the success of the first Earth Day, and its broad appeal across all sectors of society and political affiliations, it became an annual event. It wasn’t until 1990 that Earth Day was taken global. Earth Day 1990 saw over 200 million people in 141 countries force environmental issues onto the world stage. In 1990 the focus was on recycling and helped pave the way for the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Why do we celebrate Earth Day?
Each year more than 1 billion people in 192 countries take part in Earth Day. But Why? The answer is different for everyone, but if you were to ask those people, I am sure that they would tell you that they want to protect our earth. We celebrate Earth Day to remind us that we have a direct impact on our environment. Good or bad, how we act makes a difference. Earth Day is a day to think about what we can do to help keep our environment healthy and happy for all creatures on earth.
How can I get involved?
Earth Day is traditionally a day to take action. In many cities in the US and around the world, people march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees, or clean up their towns and beaches. Some companies use Earth Day to announce sustainability measures or set green goals. However, there is no right or wrong way to get involved. Even the tiniest actions can have a lasting impact. How about trying to carry a reusable water bottle or travel coffee cup? Or how about taking a cloth bag to the store instead of using plastic? There are so many small things that you can do to help take care of our planet, on Earth Day and every day!
If you live in New York or New Jersey you are able to recycle the following items: glass, metal, rigid plastic, beverage cartons, paper and cardboard. Generally, these items can be put curb side in clear plastic bags or in designated recycling bins. Check to see how your residence handles recycling.
Earth Day at Zoni
Another way to get involved is to enter the Zoni Earth Day T-Shirt competition. On April 18 students will have the opportunity to design and make an Earth Day T-Shirt. Participation is free and all students are welcome to join in. Photos of the Earth Day T-Shirt competition will be available on the Zoni facebook and Instagram pages.
FIVE SIMPLE THINGS YOU CAN DO ON EARTH DAY AND EVERY DAY
- Put your trash in trash cans and/or recycling bins
- Carry a refillable water bottle or coffee cup
- Turn off lights when you leave a room or go out
- Use public transport, walk or ride
- Donate used clothes and books to charity or to family or friends