Earth Day is a reminder for people of all ages to reduce their usage of unsustainable products, that ending the use of pesticides can save threatened species, and clean water is an increasingly precious resource around the world.
This Saturday is Earth Day, and communities across the country are mobilizing to clean up their shared green spaces and waterways, plant air-cleaning trees and bring more attention to climate change.
This year’s Earth Day theme is “Invest in Our Planet.” EarthDay.org, which works with more than 150,000 partners in 192 countries, is inviting people to pledge online to take actions like growing more trees, supporting sustainable fashion, or helping end plastic pollution.
When is Earth Day?
Earth Day is observed every year on April 22.
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 23: A park bench sits in floodwaters during high tide across the Washington Channel from The Wharf amid cherry blossoms in peak bloom near the Tidal Basin on March 23, 2023 in Washington, DC. According to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), climate change and rising sea levels are expected to threaten the root systems of cherry trees near the Tidal Basin. The National Park Service predicted that peak bloom happens from March 22 to March 25 this year. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
When was the first Earth Day?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the first Earth Day was created in 1970 by Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin as a way to force environmental protection issues onto the national agenda. Twenty million Americans demonstrated peacefully in support of the environment on that first Earth Day. By the end of that year, Congress authorized the creation of the EPA to tackle environmental issues. Since then, Congress has passed important regulatory legislation such as the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act and the Endangered Species Act.
Birds fly as high rise buildings at central business district are seen on a severely polluted day in Beijing on April 12, 2023. (Photo by Jade Gao / AFP) (Photo by JADE GAO/AFP via Getty Images)
Earth Day became a global campaign in 1990, observed by 200 million people in 141 countries, according to EarthDay.org.
Why is Earth Day important?
Earth Day is an opportunity to bring attention to the deteriorating state of the planet. The day is a reminder for people of all ages to reduce their usage of unsustainable products, that ending the use of pesticides can save threatened species, and clean water is an increasingly precious resource around the world. Earth Day’s expansion beyond the U.S. has also spurred efforts to decrease emissions internationally and keep the planet from warming beyond repair.
QUEMADO, TEXAS – FEBRUARY 23: Horses are seen at farmer Randy Edwards’ home on February 23, 2023 in Quemado, Texas. The valley’s dry spell continues creating financial challenges for the Edwards’ as demand climbs and resources become increasingly scarce due to a lack of rainfall in the region. “Cindy has already used her year’s budget on hay for her lambs, and its only February. We’re now supplementing with hay because the fields aren’t producing-which is costly,” said Edwards. Agriculture and livelihood along the Rio Grande is undergoing severe drought conditions as record-high dry spells continue straining the region. An increasingly arid climate and a growing population along the Southern border has signified and raised concerns on the severity, regularity and duration of naturally occurring droughts in the region. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
How to celebrate Earth Day
Today, Earth Day is most typically an opportunity for people to volunteer to clean up a beach or local park, help plant trees or make their way to a community event festival to learn more about helpful insects, composting or other green activities.
But when individuals make small changes to live a more sustainable life – and not just on Earth Day – it can have a big impact. And the icing on the green cake is that a lot of these small acts also help save money.
A gulf fritillary butterfly lands on a thistle bush at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville, Florida, on February 24, 2023. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
The EPA has a list of tips that anyone can use to celebrate Earth Day everyday.
Lower your carbon footprint by biking or walking, and get some exercise and fresh air at the same time.
For longer distances, carpool or take public transportation. If a car trip is absolutely necessary, make fewer trips by combining errands and drive smart – keep your car maintained, and lay off the brakes and gas pedal.
Reuse or repurpose containers, clothes and grocery bags. Those fresh salsa jars and thin-sliced ham packages with lids make great to-go or storage containers. Paper bags from the grocery store can be recycled or composted, but if you have a big collection of plastic bags you don’t need, reach out to local non-profit groups who might want those bags for food pantry distribution or used book purchases.
If you have clothes you don’t need anymore or other items in your home that are about to be thrown into the garbage, offer them up to Freecycle or mom groups on Facebook or other social media. Chances are, someone is looking for exactly what you have!
Keep your home tight – seal cracks in doors to keep in heat or cooled air, and repair leaky faucets.
No one wants to waste food and have it rot in a landfill, emitting methane. Store fresh fruit and vegetables up front in your refrigerator so they can be consumed before they go bad. If you find you are frequently throwing out food scraps, look into collecting them for a composting service in your neighborhood. More cities and municipalities are taking food scraps, even cheese-covered pizza boxes, in their green bins in order to keep them out of landfills.