To Celebrate Earth, Earth Day!

Earth Day is an excellent time to remember our impact on planet Earth.

Earth Day is an excellent time to remember our impact on planet Earth.

Johann Medina, Contributor

April has a lot of holidays, usually April Fools’ Day and Easter are the ones most talked about. However sitting around the end of April is Earth Day which has been in the shadow of the more popular events. However its purpose is way too important to ignore. Earth Day was made to spread awareness about environmental protection all over the world, and its influence has spread to different corners of different communities around the world.

A Bit of Background

The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970. United States Senator, Gaylord Nelson, had an idea to hold an event across the nation to educate and get people to talk about environmental protection. Denis Hayes, an activist, was hired to coordinate the effort, who also named the event “Earth Day” along with Nelson.

This was not the first attempt however to create a day like this. John McConnell had proposed a day to respect and honor the Earth and peace a month earlier on the spring equinox. Unfortunately, this attempt failed.

The idea of the event turned into generally spreading environmental awareness all across the country, and eventually millions of people were on the streets protesting with a huge movement of stopping pollution and demanding climate change be dealt with.

Although a violent start for the first Earth Day, it did start the annual tradition. However, the event was mostly held in the United States, though in 1990, Denis Hayes organized events in 141 countries. 2020, which held the pandemic, slowed many things down. However, over 100 million people worldwide observed the 50th Earth Day, said to be “the largest online mass mobilization in history.”

The idea of Earth Day was from Gaylord Nelson according to Denis Hayes. In January 1969, an oil well off the coast of Santa Barbara leaked more than three million gallons of oil, killing the animals and environment around there. Denis said that Nelson created Earth Day after seeing the 800 square mile oil slick from a plane.

There were alternatives for the name such as “Environment Day” and “E Day.” “Earth Day” was chosen because it was Julien Koenig’s birthday, who also helped the effort, on April 22, and it also happened to rhyme with “birthday”, the name was then accepted by the public after it was advertised in the New York Times.

Ways We Can Help

There are multiple ways we can contribute to Earth Day, which are really basic, don’t require much effort, and that you’ve heard hundreds of times.

Cleaning up trash such as plastics and cans in your area does not only just make your place look nicer, it helps animals by removing objects they might think of as food, and making it cleaner for their environment. Almost everyday when you go or look into our field, there’s at least a few pieces of trash that tarnish the look of the field, so picking up trash is one way we can make the field look better.

Another way to help is to use products that are biodegradable so they can easily decompose into the environment once disposed of, or better yet, use reusable items such as reusable water bottles and bags so you don’t have to throw away any trash at all! It’s helpful for the environment and you!

Planting trees is another way to help, the trees absorb carbon dioxide, which is a main greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, and release oxygen as a byproduct. Deforestation is an issue we have been dealing with for a while now, and forest fires especially have been something recent and more local that has been bringing down trees. Planting trees and other kinds of plants will help replenish the losses, plus, they look nice in yards and on tables and countertops. If you plant any plants that grow fruits and vegetables, even better, you could have a new farming hobby and grow your own food!

Conserving energy is yet another way to contribute to Earth Day. Conserving energy helps reduce indirect greenhouse gas emissions as electricity you use is usually generated by fossil fuels, as they are a main source of energy once burned. However when they burn, they release huge amounts of carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. As such, reducing electricity usage can help play a factor in reducing your carbon footprint, which is your record of directly or indirectly releasing carbon emissions.

Final Facts

Earth Day is a day to remind us that climate change, while being dealt with at the moment, is still here and coming faster. Participating in Earth Day can play a small factor in making your local area better.

Efforts can really have an effect. In the years after Earth Day 1970, many national environmental policies were passed such as the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.

Maybe you can pick up a piece of litter, or plant a tree the next Earth Day, as these small efforts could have a big impact on your community, and in turn, on helping the world.