Happy Earth Day from ESP!
At ESP, every day is Earth Day. We believe in making choices that benefit the environment twelve months out of the year, and we hope you’ll join us. On April 22, we have a designated holiday to celebrate and appreciate the natural world. It’s also a great time to check in with ourselves about what we can do to make the Earth a cleaner, greener place.
Earth Day is an opportunity to educate ourselves about environmental issues in our community. It’s also a day for reflecting on our own routines and how they might be tweaked to promote sustainability. You may find that the same choices that benefit the environment also improve our mental and physical health. From biking to gardening to advocating for a cause, many activities can enrich our daily lives, plant the seeds of a positive legacy, and leave us feeling more connected to the world around us. This Earth Day, make a point to get outside and enjoy nature!
- While Earth Day originated in the US in 1970, the holiday went global in 1990, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries, according to the Earth Day website
- It’s now recognized as the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by over a billion people every year, according to the same website
- In 2011, 28 million trees were planted in Afghanistan by Earth Day volunteers, according to DoSomething.org
History of Earth Day
Earth Day was created in 1970 after a devastating oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, brought attention to the environmental issues facing Americans. The 1969 spill released roughly 3 million gallons of crude oil into the Pacific ocean, killing birds and wildlife. It was the largest oil spill in US waters at the time, according to the LA Times. The tragedy prompted Senator Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat from Wisconsin, to call for a holiday that would encourage a new wave of environmental activism. He teamed up with U.S. Representative Pete McCloskey, a Republican from California, to create Earth Day. Protecting the world we share is clearly a bipartisan issue!
The first Earth Day was massively popular and took the form of a demonstration. 20 million Americans took part, or 10% of the country’s population at the time, according to Farmer’s Almanac. Participants hoped to draw attention to a range of environmental issues, from toxic drinking water to air pollution and the effects of pesticides. While the first Earth Day was a demonstration, the holiday has since expanded to a day of action and awareness, in which participants celebrate by advocating for conservation, cleaning up trash, planting trees, and more. And while the holiday originated in the US, people all around the world now celebrate.
Ways You Can Get Involved
Earth Day is an opportunity for people across the globe to show their appreciation for the natural world. We compiled a list of ways to celebrate Earth Day. These simple, enjoyable actions benefit the environment and help you connect with nature.
At ESP, we celebrate Earth Day year round. That said, April 22 is a special opportunity to seek out experiences that will inspire and enlighten us, experiences that may influence the way we act throughout the rest of the year. It’s an opportunity to reflect on all ways that nature enriches our lives, and look for small actions we can take to help protect it. Here are a few ways to celebrate this Earth Day:
Plant a Tree
If you have room in your yard, consider planting a tree this Earth Day. Not only will you enjoy the extra shade this summer, you’ll also help offset your carbon footprint and maybe even provide food and shelter to local wildlife. Trees are vital to the health of the natural world, producing oxygen for us to breathe. They also help reduce erosion, cut down on pollution in our waterways, and sometimes even reduce the effects of flooding, according to the Bowling Green Municipal Board. There are countless reasons to protect the trees we have and plant new ones when possible.
Check out your local nursery to see the selection of potted trees available for you to plant right away. You might also consider researching trees native to your area and choosing one that provides shelter or food to local wildlife. This can be a great opportunity for families to plant a tree together, so that young children can take on a hands-on role in your Earth Day celebration.
Don’t have room for another tree, or your own backyard yet? No sweat. If you don’t have free outdoor space for a new tree, consider donating to one of the many charities that will plant one for you, or look into local tree-planting organizations to join a group effort in a local public space. For every $1 donation One Tree Planted receives, the organization will plant a tree in the Amazon rainforest. The website also allows you to plant trees in other areas, choosing your preferred location by continent and country. Or check out nonprofits like the Nature Conservancy, which help regrow depleted forests.
Plant a Vegetable Garden
Any given parcel of produce travels an average of 1,500 miles to reach an American’s plate, according to information from journalist Michael Pollan. That means that even when you’re eating healthy, the transportation of your favorite fruits and veggies can have a major impact on carbon emissions. This Earth Day, consider celebrating by planting a vegetable garden. Not only will your garden help to offset your carbon footprint, but it may also encourage you to eat healthier, save you money on groceries, spur you to spend more time outside, and even help relieve stress, according to Burke.org.
Start by researching the vegetables that grow best in your climate, particularly native plants. Pick out a few of your favorites to get started. Then you’ll need to research planting dates and prepare the soil. Gardener Joe Lamp’l compiled some tips for novice gardeners to get started. April is a great time to start gardening, and you might even find that your Earth Day activity turns into a life-long hobby. Happy planting!
Take a Walk Outside
One simple (and cheap) way to celebrate Earth Day is by taking a walk outside and enjoying nature. Taking walks is great for your mental health, especially if you can do it in a forest or near a lot of trees, which is crucial after a year of pandemic anxiety. According to Business Insider, spending time outside can help alleviate depression, lower blood pressure, decrease cancer risk, reduce inflammation, and even improve short-term memory, among a host of mental and physical health benefits. Earth Day was created to bring attention to issues facing the environment. What better way to honor that mission than by spending some time outside, appreciating the natural world?
If you have the means, consider celebrating Earth Day by donating to an environmental charity. There are countless organizations working to address issues of pollution, deforestation, and climate change, to name a few. We’re fond of GivePower, which provides access to clean power and clean drinking water, but there are many other worthy causes. It’s easy to find charities that specialize in an environmental issue that’s especially close to your heart — EarthEasy even compiled a list of top environmental charities if you need somewhere to get started. You could also pledge to donate a smaller sum of money each month over the course of the next year, so that your commitment to environmental causes is sustained beyond the holiday.
Don’t have spare change for charity in the budget? Donate some gently-used goods to a local organization. Few people realize just how much clothing makes its way to landfills. Textile waste accounts for 92 million tons of landfill waste each year, according to the BBC, and the fashion industry accounts for 10% of overall greenhouse gas emissions. Those are some staggering numbers. The good news is that much of the fabric that makes up your old clothes can be repurposed. Upcycling is growing in popularity for good reason — the old saying “one person’s trash is another one’s treasure” still holds up.
Ride Your Bike
This Earth Day, consider switching up your daily commute. Instead of driving to work or to run errands, cut down on carbon emissions by biking instead. According to INSH, 276 million cars on the road account for 30% of greenhouse gases in the US. Car transportation is one of the major sources of air pollution in the US and worldwide. Opting for a carbon-free commute is a fun and healthy way to observe Earth Day. You might even find that you enjoy the change in routine, and that biking could take on a bigger role in your day-to-day transportation. And if you pick up an e-bike, you can charge it with the solar on your roof to be extra-green!
Advocate for a Cause
Advocacy is a great way to honor Earth Day. The holiday began as a demonstration, and why not return to its roots by spending Earth Day advocating on behalf of Mother Nature? If there’s an environmental issue that’s particularly close to your heart, consider writing to your elected representatives to raise awareness of it. Or join an organizing group in your community that has already been hard at work mobilizing the public. You might be surprised to find a network of passionate, knowledgeable environmentalists already hard at work to address the problems that are closest to your heart. If you’re new to organizing, you might also consider spending Earth Day researching the environmental concerns in your area. If you spend the day acquainting yourself with problems in your community and how they’re affecting people, wildlife, and natural spaces, you might find the motivation to advocate for environmental causes year-round.
Switch to Reusable Products
Californians use 16 billion plastic bags every year, or more than 400 per person, according to Environment California. Yet less than 5 percent of those bags are recycled. An astounding volume of plastic waste is created just in our day-to-day lives, and much of it is avoidable. Still using disposable grocery bags? Now is the time to make the switch. The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, and the Spruce blog all have lists of their top reusable grocery bags.
Another huge source of plastic waste are disposable water bottles. 1.5 million barrels of oil are used in the U.S alone to meet the demand for plastic bottles, according to the World Counts. Roughly 1,500 plastic bottles end up as waste in landfills or thrown in the ocean every second, according to the same statistics. Let Earth Day be your excuse to upgrade to a reliable, stylish, reusable water bottle.
Reflect and Commit
If you’re not actively trying to make the world better for yourself and others, what are you doing? This Earth Day, consider taking some time to reflect on the areas where you could do the most to “leave it better than you found it”. For some people, that might mean pledging to bike to work once a week, or to swap out carbon-intensive foods like red meat certain days a week. There are a million small steps that could have an affect on our carbon footprint, but they don’t always have to mean “giving up something.” You might commit to thrifting clothes, looking for used furniture, or buying local produce. Or maybe you’ll find a community garden to volunteer at. Even resolving to pick up a few items of litter each day can mean a cleaner, more beautiful natural world.
Thanks for reading! And remember, installing solar has a huge positive impact on the planet. As always, if you’re interested in selling solar or getting solar installed, contact ESP today.