Related Posts with Thumbnails

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day: a history and 5 things you can do today

It was the apex of hippie culture. The United States was saturated with gas guzzling V8 engines. Jimi Hendrix passed away, and the Beatles had released their final album. There was a war raging in Vietnam and students were protesting, and Simon and Garfunkel were signing about a "Bridge over Troubled Water."

The year was 1970, and on April 22nd, Earth Day* was born.



In 1969, seven years after Rachel Carson sounded the alarm on the effects of pesticides on birds in Silent Spring, Santa Barbara saw a devastating oil spill, in which 80,000-100,000 barrels of crude contaminated the waters, six miles off its coast. The spill was the largest of its kind at the time, and was reported to have killed approximately 3,500 sea birds and other marine life, such as sea lions, dolphins, and elephant seals. 

The public was outraged, then U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin took note. 



Senator Nelson was equally outraged and wanted to capitalize on the anti-war movement and launched a "national teach-in on the environment," focusing on air and water pollution. He won bipartisan support and with his team, organized and promoted events across the country. And so began Earth Day. 

In 1970, over 20 million people, in groups throughout the Unites States, rallied in protests against environmental destruction. The movement crossed party and demographic lines, and in time, led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Clean Air, the Clean Water, and the Endangered Species Acts. 

By 1990, Earth Day had spread to 141 countries, leading to the first United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In 1995, then President Bill Clinton awarded Gaylord Nelson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest citizen honor. And in 2000, Earth Day went cyber, using the Internet to relay the conservation message. 

Today, there are over 5,000 earth conservation groups in 184 countries, but the conservation message has been diluted amid a powerful oil lobby, climate change deniers, and a seemingly disinterested public. We move forward in the name of progress, but at what cost? 

Still, the groups persist and continue to spread the word and educate others on ways we affect the environment through our own choices and lifestyle and ways that we can conserve in our every day lives. 

Want to know your own carbon footprint? Here's a calculator. 



Now that you know your own carbon footprint, if you're not sure where to start in reducing that footprint beyond recycling, here are five ways you can make a difference. 



1. In our efforts to recycle and re-purpose, we can use cloth napkins, replace plastic with glassware for food storage, and use reusable water bottles. 

2. Start a garden with flowers and plants that attract bees and other pollinators and seek out organic and natural ways to keep pests at bay. Learn how here and here

3. Support your local farms. Consider a share in community supported agriculture or frequent farmers' markets. Get to know the people growing your food. Ask questions. Become educated about the products they use. Check out Local Harvest for more information on farms and CSAs in your area. 

4. Eating fish? Use Seafood Watch to find out which species to avoid, due to contamination and overfishing and alternatives to some of your favorites. 

5. Vote with your dollars. Buy from brands that support your thinking. Be conscious of your choices and buy because of conviction, not convenience. And who knows? You may be surprised to find both. 

BONUS...

  • What is your home energy consumption? Conduct an energy audit. Find out how here
  • Is your home solar panel viable? Find out here
  • Reduce your meat consumption by eating one vegetarian meal per week. Check out Meatless Monday for recipes. 


Do you reduce, reuse, or recycle? What are your favorite conservation methods?




*Earth Day history, courtesy of EarthDay.org.


25 comments:

  1. When I first moved to Oregon, I had been living in a state where recycling had not yet caught on, so I had some bad habits. The first time I threw my soda can in the trash, I honestly thought I was going to get lynched. Today, I'm much better about recycling.

    ReplyDelete
  2. All great things friend! We all can be more conscious about our decisions and what we decide to buy and consume!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am working more and more all the time toward a more sustainable life.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks so much for providing us with so much history about the day! I fear sometimes it may be too late for some things but I know every little step we take makes a difference.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I try to be as eco as possible in my home. I do most of these things. I loved the history of it. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lo {Travel the Unbeaten Path}April 22, 2015 at 10:30 AM

    Aw sweet (and super informative) post! We work hard over here to lessen our carbon footprint, and it feels so good!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think I'm lucky to be Canadian - washable napkins, dishes, etc. have always been pretty normal for us. We're installing a composting toilet and gray water system this summer.


    We've stopped using a fridge. :) Huge energy savings.


    We annoy the locals by letting most of our land stay wild - I love the ever-changing display of wildflowers all summer!


    We're building our own small farm. Whenever possible, we buy local.


    Home energy - 100% solar electricity, wood heat, and a trickle of propane used for a cooking stove.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great Post Kelly. So many simple ways to make a difference. Happy Earth Day!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love the carbon footprint calculator. And I love that Earth friendliness is becoming more and more mainstream. We just redid our backyard compost so it's enclosed and has room to turn over, so I'm happy about that. We always use reusable bags, water bottles, cloth napkins, hankies instead of tissues, and try to say no to plastic items whenever they're offered at shops/restaurants. One of the reasons I loved Seattle so much was all of the sustainable initiatives the city had- compost, no styrofoam, no plastic bags or plastic water bottles, etc. It was awesome!
    Thanks for this post, Kelly!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Generation Above MeApril 22, 2015 at 2:45 PM

    Thanks for the background on Earth Day and the practical suggestions on how to honor it. Such great positive energy in your writing. Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  11. P.v. Rajasekhar RajuApril 23, 2015 at 9:04 AM

    The article is very unique and creates awareness on creating and practicing and adopting environment friendly behaviors.

    http://www.industriesneeds.com/post/117075243437/earth-day-spring-cleaning-picks-from-goodguide

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love this post! Shopping from local farmers gives me so much pleasure! We all need to be doing these things constantly especially recycling! I know a lot of folks that still don't! Thanks for sharing these wonderful reminders.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I agree, Carolann. I love frequenting local farms to see what has been harvested. So nice to see you, friend. Have a wonderful weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  14. We eat a lot of fish in our house too. We make a conscious effort to eat only what is sustainable. In our own way, we are making a difference. Thank you for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you so much! That means a lot. Please come back and visit again soon. Have a great weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you, Christy. You're making some great choices. The Pacific Northwest appeals to me for exactly that reason. We make a conscious effort to do what is Earth friendly. Baby steps, sometimes, but in our own way, we are making a difference.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I thought it was an interesting read as well. You learn something new every day. Cheers to you "both." :-)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you, Peggy. We make a conscious effort to do what is Earth friendly. Baby steps, sometimes, but in our own way, we are making a difference.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hello, Marie. Congratulations on reducing your carbon footprint to that degree. We make a conscious effort to do what is Earth friendly. Baby steps, sometimes, but in our own way, we are making a difference. Kudos to you!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hello Louise. :-) We make a conscious effort to do what is Earth friendly as well. Baby steps, sometimes, but in our own way, we are making a difference.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I thought it had an interesting history as well. We make a conscious effort to do what is Earth friendly too. Baby steps, sometimes, but in our own way, we are making a difference.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Jill. I thought it had an interesting history as well. We make a conscious effort to do what is Earth friendly too. Baby steps, sometimes, but in our own way, we are making a difference.

    ReplyDelete
  23. We do too, Mandee. They are baby steps, sometimes, but in our own way, we are making a difference.

    ReplyDelete
  24. We vote with our dollars. It's up to choose products that align with our philosophies.

    ReplyDelete
  25. We make a conscious effort to do what is Earth friendly too. Baby steps, sometimes, but in our own way, we are making a difference. It all counts. :-)

    ReplyDelete