Earth Day 2011
Happy Earth Day everyone! When you learn about the history of Earth Day, you’ll find out that the original date of Earth Day is also the marking of the Spring Equinox (March 20), even though the more popular date is April 22.
As it turns out, April 22 is one of two Earth days, the first one being on the Spring Equinox. Yet, April 22 is the popular one. This may be because Earth Day has been somewhat of a force in bringing global communications together in mainstream forums surrounding the issue of sustainability in the face of environmental degradation.
Earth Day History
The global observance of Earth Day is an incredible achievement on the part of those who made it a recognized date on the calendar. And it proves that a cooperative spirit is truly indomitable when driven by passion for the issues and when empowered by technology.
The Earth Day celebrations in March is said to have started with John McConnell, a newspaper publisher and influential community activist. In 1969, McConnell attended a UNESCO Conference on the Environment, where he proposed the idea of having an annual global holiday called Earth Day that would remind people of their responsibility to maintain the environmental equilibrium of the earth. He hoped that this singular occasion would make people join hands and recognize their common need to preserve Earth’s resources. He chose the vernal equinox as the time of the Earth Day celebrations. Supporting his decision regarding this date of observance, he himself said later:
“When I first conceived of Earth Day, a global holiday to celebrate the wonder of life on our planet, I thought long and hard about the day on which it should fall. It must be meaningful. One that might be accepted universally for all of humankind.
When the Vernal Equinox dawned on me, I immediately knew it was right. The Earth tremor that shook our California dwelling at that moment seemed an omen of confirmation. What could be more appropriate than the first moment of Spring, when day and night are equal around the world and hearts and minds can join together with thoughts of harmony and Earth’s rejuvenation. Just as a single prayer can be significant, how much more so when hundreds, thousands, millions of people throughout the world join in peaceful thoughts and prayers to nurture neighbor and nature.
And so it came to pass we initiated the celebration of Earth Day on March 21, 1970….Earth Day was firmly established for all time on a sound basis as an annual event to deepen reverence and care for life on our planet. ”
Here’s a list of 10 small actions you can take to make big changes!
1. Talk About Green Issues. Hey! We’re doing this right now on this very blog! Don’t you love it when the first item on a list is instantly checked off! Of course, it’s up to you to leave a comment on this post (no pressure). Or, consider finding other blogs and forums where you can add your two cents. Or consider this; have a real time conversation with friends, family, and co-workers about the green issues that affect you the most.
2. Think Green when You Clean. Cleaning products that contain toxic substances expose your family to toxins and then end up in the ecosystem. Choose nontoxic, naturally derived cleaning products, or even better, make your own! Going back to the original naturally derived ingredients is a way to make cleaning products that work, don’t pollute and save you money. There are tons of D.I.Y recipes online and on our blog (natural cleaning category). Replace your laundry detergent with SmartKlean – a super sustainable alternative to laundry detergents.
3. Choose Organic Foods. Research is showing increasingly that organic farming has some of the greatest potential to store carbon. The whole system of organic farming and other sustainable practices that come out of the organic toolbox, they all really focus on soil building.
4. Plant a Tree Every Earth Day! Over a 50-year lifetime, a tree generates $31,250 worth of oxygen, provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control, recycles $37,500 worth of water, and controls $31,250 worth of soil erosion. It also provides shade that keeps homes and cities cooler!
5. Leave the Car at Home for the Day or Carpool. Support public transit today, and consider whether or not it makes sense for the rest of the year, too. If transit under-services your area, think about organizing a carpool with co-workers who live in your area. If your coworker lives on the way to your commute to work go ahead and pick him/her up. It’s easy for me, I know – I don’t have a car. But, for those who do, consider giving up your usual commute for the bus/train/subway/light rapid transit, or whatever your city has to offer you.
6. Take a walk in Nearby Woods or Parks.One of the best ways to celebrate the earth is by being out in a place where the natural world holds sway, perhaps more so then in our regular urban or suburban environs. Explore the natural treasures in your own area, and maybe it will become a regular thing.
7. Use Both Sides of Paper
Every year, pulp mills release over one trillion gallons of chlorine-tainted water as part of the paper making process. Using the other side of the paper can cut that pollution almost in half! And choose recycled paper—especially processed-chlorine-free recycled paper.
8. Lighten Your Energy Bill
There’s a brighter way to light your home: new Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). Compared to regular bulbs, CFLs last 10 times longer, use only 1/4 the energy and produce 90% less heat—yet they produce more light per watt! Brighten the future: go CFL!
9. Write a Letter or Email to Politicians. Most politicians at municipal level, and many at state/provincial levels have feedback channels that allow you to have your say on the ecological issues that most effect you. Think about the green issues that you’re most passionate about. And tell the policymakers what you’d like to see to strengthen the green credibility and lower the carbon footprint in your area. This is a great resource to contact your elected representative and register your support for strong chemical regulation and policy.
10. Think About How to ‘Green’ the Habits of Your Day. Do you leave lights on when you leave a room? Do you leave the water running while brushing your teeth? Do you make full use of dishwater? Don’t take a trip to Guiltville over all of this. But, spending time examining the details of your daily practices can reveal a lot about how ‘green’ you’re living. And this is a great way of discovering how to make things better in your little corner of our planet.
P.S. Always Remember: A sense that we have a say in our destiny as a people is what we need to be reminded of the most on Earth Day. Our world becomes better when we have hope for the future. And sometimes the most powerful visions of hope start with single ideas.