“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
― Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder
Earth Day is a yearly event that is celebrated throughout the globe in support of environmental protection. The very first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, in the United States, and marks the start of the modern environmental movement. In the decades before, life in America was on a decided course of progress with little thought for the natural world. Cars were inefficient, and consumed a lot of leaded gas, releasing toxic fumes into the air. Rapid industrial growth spewed toxic chemicals into the water and destroyed habitat with little regard for the environment. The serious side effects of chemicals being used in agriculture and residential areas were not widely known. Pollution was simply seen as the price for progress.
The first Earth Day brought national attention to the environmental movement and was attended by about 20 million people all over the country. People cleaned up green spaces and water bodies, planted trees, and spent time getting educated on issues. Most importantly, it let elected officials know that the environmental conservation was important to their constituents. That initial event strengthened support for the Clean Air Act (updated in 1970), the Clean Water Act (1972) and the Endangered Species Act (1973). These laws have had a significant effect on cleaning up our air and water, and protecting vulnerable species from extinction. Some of these laws are in peril of being weakened today, almost 50 years after they were enacted. Examples include the recent reduction in the number of waterways that are protected under the Clean Water Act. It will take vigilant citizens to preserve these laws and the resources they protect.
Did you know that Earth Day turns 50 this year? While we are all required to be home to fight COVID-19, there is much we can do to help protect the planet. Now is the perfect time to assess our environmental footprint and make changes. Even small changes can have an impact. Consider eating more plant-based foods, and reducing the amount of meat and dairy consumed for starters. Plants are friendly to our health as well as the planet. Visit the US Geologic Survey page to calculate the average water use in your home, and brainstorm ways to use less water. Economize on electricity and printing paper. Commit to wasting less food, and start composting food scraps and yard waste. Even grass clippings and old leaves can be turned into soil for the garden. If we all make an effort, we can reduce the burden on the planet while maintaining our lifestyle. Take a look at the Earth Day Network’s 11 actions for the planet that are Earth-friendly that you can do from your home.
The Earth has given us sustenance and strength throughout our lifetime. It is time to preserve that beauty that gives us strength by making sure it is there for generations to come. Take a stand for the planet – it is the only one we have got!