This year marks 51 years since the first Earth Day celebration was held on April 22, 1970.
Twenty million Americans took to the streets, college campuses and hundreds of cities to protest environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward for our planet—and the movement caught on. Today, Earth Day is a global movement, with more than 1 billion people taking part across the planet. In 2020, what would have been the movement’s 50th Anniversary, festivities were largely virtual due to the pandemic. The same holds true this year, but there are still plenty of ways to commemorate the day. Below are just a few simple actions to take on Earth Day…and every day!
• Get outside and support the Great Global Cleanup by simply picking up trash while enjoying your outdoor adventures. It is a simple way to protect our planet while you are on your morning walk!
• Make simple changes to your diet. By reducing methane emissions, we can decrease the rate of climate change. One simple way to do that is to reduce your consumption of red meat. Try incorporating Meatless Mondays and go from there.
• Visit www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx to calculate your personal carbon footprint and make changes to reduce it.
• Stock up on re-usable grocery bags and bid farewell to plastic bags for good. It’s estimated that Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to produce. Plastic bags also take up lots of space in landfills and cause major problems for marine wildlife.
• Sign up for online bill pay and put an end to your paper bills. You’ll be saving trees and the fuel it takes to deliver your bills by truck.
• Ditch the single-use plastic bottles and opt for a re-usable water bottle instead. Purchase one with a filter to make it easy to have clean water on the go.
• Take a shorter shower and use a water-saving showerhead. This is a simple way to incorporate a green act into your daily routine.
• Turn off lights when you leave the room to save electricity.
• Start a container garden. Container gardening is a simple, space-saving way to plant your own fruits and veggies, which will benefit your health and reduce the amount of fossil fuel emissions by not having to transport the food to stores.
• Update your light bulbs to energy-efficient models. Compared to traditional incandescents, energy-efficient models such as halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light emitting diodes (LEDs) last longer and use less energy on a daily basis.
• Ride your bike. Reduce your carbon footprint by giving your car a break for the day. The fewer cars on the road, the less carbon emissions pollute the air and contribute to global warming.
• Make a recycling plan. If you don’t already have a plan in place, now is the time to review what can be recycled and where, and come up with a regular recycling plan that works for your family. Start by visiting www.hillsboroughcounty.org/ and searching Trash and Recycling to learn more about how to recycle properly.
• Watch a documentary about the Earth. Take time to remind yourself just how beautiful and vulnerable our plant truly is by watching one of the stunning nature documentaries now streaming. “Our Planet” on Netflix and Disneynature’s “Elephant” and “Dolphin Reef” on Disney+ are some great options.
Sustainability can often seem daunting. Simply making a few small, conscious choices has a larger impact than you might realize. Happy Earth Day!
By Karen Ring