As I look out the window at the budding trees and the flowers pushing away the earth as they wake from their slumber, I am reminded of just how precious the Earth really is. With Earth Day upon us we are reminded to think about how decisions we make impact the entire globe and all living things. Everyone should strive to reduce his or her carbon footprint, especially Americans. Here is a fact… if every other country was as hard on the Earth as Americans, we would need 4.1 Earths to sustain us all. Kind of makes you want to move in a greener direction, doesn’t it?
First Earth Day
Gaylord Nelson was a Senator in Washington when he witnessed, first hand, the extreme impact of the 1969 Santa Barbara California oil spill. He wanted to raise public consciousness of air and water pollution to force environmental protection onto the political agenda. He was successful in raising the support he needed and the idea for Earth Day was born. Earth Day has been celebrated since April 22, 1970 all over our country. It has become just one small reminder of how much we truly can do to make a difference.
Here are a few ideas of things you can do this Earth Day...
1. Organize a Neighborhood Cleanup Day
My first bike ride of the season was pleasant until I looked beyond the trees and pastures. What I saw was a load of trash littering the sides of the roads. There were old tires, buckets, cans, bags of trash, cups, cans, bottles, and even pieces of old furniture strewn all over the landscape. I live in a rural area where the cleanup budget is low, but this is no excuse not to get out and make an effort to beautify the land. If you, like me, are horrified by the amount of trash recklessly littered around your neighborhood, organize a group of people to take a couple of hours on Earth Day to clean up. Heavy-duty trash bags, a few pokers, gloves and a desire to make a difference are all that is needed. Cleaning up sends a strong signal to those who litter to find a trash can next time they think of using the roadside as a dump.
2. Set Up an Informational Table in Your Community
For some people, just raising awareness of the haphazard way we treat the environment is enough to urge them into action. Take some time to put together some resources, statistics, and informational items to help educate those in your community. This kind of project is easy to get the whole family involved in. You could even offer such things as a composting demonstration or let kids do a cool recycling craft to show how easy it is to keep items out of the landfill. There is no limit to the number of things you can do to raise awareness in the place that you live. Speak to your city officials to find a great location for your demonstration where the most people will be impacted. They will more than likely be very cooperative.
3. Plant Trees or Shrubs
Perhaps my favorite part of Earth Day is planting. Each year, my kids and I spend some time planting something somewhere. Last year we planted fifty redbud trees in our pasture and willow trees in our yard. If you have space, plant what you can and offer to plant in your neighbor’s yards, local parks, or in any green space in and around your community. (Check out "Small Trees for the Urban Homestead" and "Gardening in Small Spaces" for tips.) Planting even just one tree really does make a difference. Consider planting a fruit tree that helps to clean the air, water and soil, all while providing nutritious food and shade.
You can make a difference this Earth Day, so roll up your sleeves and take a stand for the land that sustains you.