Earth Day – A Year-Long Celebration

In 1970, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, enlisted bipartisan congressional support to launch the first Earth Day.  He was dismayed by the tragic damages dealt the environment by a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California the previous year, and wanted to focus national attention on the importance of mindful stewardship of the planet.

Over 20 million people participated in the “teach-in” that April 22nd, and the awareness-raising project took root.  The success of the first Earth Day is credited with sparking the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.

Just 20 years later more than 200 million people around the globe took part, and this year, an estimated one billion will participate in Earth Day events.

Let’s make Earth Day a year-long celebration!  With a little creativity and commitment, we can each be more effective in finding personal ways to be kinder to the environment.

1. Reduce: Just taking your own shopping bag to the grocery story every week is a huge step towards helping the planet.  Using refillable containers for beverages you bring from home instead of buying plastic bottles of water is another little step that gets big results.

2. Reuse: Don’t be so quick to toss empty, worn-out or broken items.  An old, torn T-shirt makes several superior dust cloths.  Twist the cap back on an empty liter plastic bottle and cut off the bottom, and you have a great scoop for dog food or bird seeds.  Collect various colors and sizes of broken pottery and make a custom table-top mosaic.  Melt broken crayons and pour the wax into a clean plastic prescription bottle, and make a super crayon!  A broken ladder, firmly attached to the wall on an angle, makes a dramatic and practical set of shelves.  Get crafty and creative, and you’ll come up with clever solutions.

3. Recycle glass, plastic, metals, electronics, batteries, mercury light bulbs and cardboard.  Just check with your local waste management facilities for specifics.

4. Plant a tree in memory of a loved one or pet, and you’ll be part of the global movement to plant one billion trees.

5. Volunteer to help with a beach, river or highway cleanup project in your area.

6. Shop consciously, and choose items with a high percentage of recycled material.  Also look for furniture made from reclaimed wood, or harvested through sustainable forest management.

7. Choose energy-efficient appliances, electronics and household building materials.  Double-paned windows dramatically cut down on heating and cooling costs.

8. Conserve electricity by turning off lights, TVs and computers when you’re not in the room.  Wait until the dishwasher is full to run it.  Keep the thermostat a little lower in the winter, and higher during warmer months.

9. Start a windowsill or potted garden to grow fresh herbs.  If you have the space, start composting kitchen waste to create nutrient-rich soil.

10. Since Earth Day was initiated as a “teaching moment,” take your kids or friends for a hike in the woods.  Being in the beauty and grace of nature reinforces our responsibility to care for our planet, as God directed.

Help make Earth Day 2019 the most effective one yet by being an active participant.

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