Historically, the first Earth Day was officially established and celebrated on April 22, 1970. The importance of this event was to bring awareness to the growing problems of the increasing environmental degradation of the Earth. Air pollution from factories emitting smoke and sludge was so bad it shielded large cities from the sun and created respiratory ailments. Water pollution increased as a result of municipal and manufacturing dumping of untreated waste directly into waterways. Land degradation worsened from improper and unsustainable farming techniques, factory dumping, unregulated mining activities, and the overuse of chemical pesticides and herbicides. The onslaught of the environment led to increased species extinction. This prompted Rachel Carson, in 1962, to write the Silent Spring. Carson’s book was instrumental in informing the public of the growing environmental degradation in the United States. The book also established the connection between human health and environmental degradation. This book and the first Earth Day would become the catalysts for the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Since then, each year Earth Day has been celebrated on April 22. Generally, contemporary Earth Day observances focus on bringing awareness to environmental issues that include:
- protecting endangered species
- climate change
- environmental destruction of the oceans and ocean species
- desertification and biodiversity loss and clean energy options.
There is a need to celebrate Earth Day more than just one day every year therefore, celebrating the Earth should be a daily occurrence.
There are a variety of things to practice daily in celebrating the Earth:
- Turn off lights when exiting a room or leaving home.
- Recycle items that can be recycled.
- Reuse or repurpose unused or unwanted items rather than throwing them away.
- Plant a garden and trees to help improve air quality and reduce soil erosion.
- Wait to run the dishwasher or washing machine until there is a full load.
- Walk to local destinations instead of driving or use public transportation or carpooling.
- Switch to using cloth products in place of paper products, i.e. napkins, diapers, paper plates.
- Save energy by hanging clothes out to dry on a wash line instead of throwing them in the dryer.
- Pick up and properly dispose of trash.
There are many beneficial activities that can be done with family and friends to create awareness and education on ways to help the Earth.
- Pay a visit to the local recycling center and water treatment plants to understand these processes and how proper management can protect the environment.
- Create a garden compost area from non-meat table scraps to use on vegetable and flower beds.
- Look for and attend activities and programs that plant trees, clean streets, and highways, or help restore degraded areas in your community.
- Purchase products produced sustainably with little environmental impact.
- Spend time outdoors by visiting a zoo or nature preserve, go on a hike or nature walk, go to the park, or take walks to enjoy the beauty around you.
All these activities promote sustainability and enable us to celebrate the Earth.
A fun way to celebrate the Sun and Earth together is to go on an eco-vacation. An eco-vacation can be done through ecotourism. Ecotourism promotes responsible travel and is a way to learn about local cultures. Going on wilderness adventures teaches about the local habitat and animals. Ecotourism involves volunteering and learning different ways that we can sustainably live on Earth. The primary attractions in ecotourism are not ‘tourist destinations, but the local vegetation, people, and wildlife.