How it started vs how it’s going
In 1970, activist John McConnell, proposed that there was to be a day to honour the Earth. Wisconsin Senator, Gaylord Nelson quickly took it upon himself to endorse this and the first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970. 20 million Americans joined in a grassroots demonstration around issues such as toxic drinking water, air pollution, and the effects of pesticides.
Now, more than 1 billion people in 192 countries participate in Earth Day activities each year in support of the environment, highlighting the urgent action we need to take to save our planet, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
Earth Day 2021- The time is now
The theme of this year’s Earth Day is “Restore Our Earth” which is a fitting and much-needed sentiment as we look back over the last year of our world which has been devastated by the pandemic and numerous catastrophes ranging from hurricanes to bushfires. Its focus couldn’t be more timely. It has been a dark year but with vaccines being developed faster than ever imagined, and vaccination programs being successfully rolled out, cautiously speaking, this Earth Day, the future looks brighter.
However, there is an incredible amount to do and, considering that we need to significantly cut emissions by an estimated 45 per cent by 2030 to keep global warming to 1.5°C, the extent of the challenge we’re facing is clear. As Kathleen Rogers, president of EarthDay.org, poignantly explains “This Earth Day, we have an important opportunity to challenge our leaders to commit to climate action on a global scale. We are at the edge of a cliff — if we don’t act now to reduce carbon emissions, there will be no way back.”
How you can take part this Earth Day
There is an abundance of events, both online and in-person (in line with Covid restrictions), taking place this year. You can use this handy map to find out what’s happening in your area along with this toolkit to help you decide which path to take: perhaps you would like to partake in a teach-in on how to promote a cleaner future, or maybe you would like to organise a clean-up and tackle global waste. You can also tune in to Earth Day Live and listen to the event live-streamed that includes workshops, panel discussions and various guest appearances. You could also sign up to become a member and officially support Earth Day.
What else can you do?
While having an entire day dedicated to saving the planet is fantastic and does wonders in our quest, we can (and must) change aspects in our daily lives. A study revealed that most people want to make sustainable changes but aren’t sure where to start. The easy answer? Just start small. As we all know, every little helps: So, cycle to work, buy reusable bags for shopping, use a refillable water bottle, turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, pick up rubbish when out for a walk, buy local produce, switch to renewable energy and eat less meat (No meat Mondays).
Earth Day comes once a year, but these lifestyle changes are beneficial (and necessary) for the other 364 days, and the years to follow. In the words of Jane Goodall, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.”
We only have one (Mother) Earth. Let’s treat her right. The time is now.