April 22nd is
What does Earth Day mean to you? How does the ocean fit in with your idea of ocean protection?
Earth Day has grown over the last 40 years to become the world's largest international environmental celebration.
The event was inspired by the beginnings and successes of grassroots environmental activism on a community level. The event was originally credited to Senator Gaylord Nelson, a man also known as the "Conservation Governor".
In spring 1970, Senator Nelson proposed a national teach-in on the environment to send a message to Washington that public opinion was solidly behind a bold political agenda on environmental problems.
"He insisted that the national office would not try to shape a uniform national protest—this was to be a day for people to act locally.
"This is the time," Nelson insisted, "for old-fashion political action." (EPA 2014)
Using the support of a network of dedicated, passionate students, Senator Nelson began "Environmental Teach In Inc". The organization worked to promote the event, support local organizers, and promote political actions that protected the environment.
According to the EPA, 20 million Americans—from 10,000 elementary and high schools, 2,000 colleges, and over 1,000 communities—took part in the inaugural Earth Day event. People of all ages, races and occupations felt drawn to the event, and in fact, 1 in 10 Americans across the country participated in the very first Earth Day.
The event summoned the political favor for environmental regulations. Shortly after the event,"President Nixon and many in Congress rushed to lend their support to the National Environmental Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and stringent amendments to the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts." (EPA 2002). Since 1970, Earth Day has stood for the power of environmental interests, and continues to be a great way to remind everyone how much we rely on the natural environment.
"Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time not the resources to organize the 20 million demonstrators who participated from thousands of schools and local communities. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself."
So what can you do to protect your planet and support environmental protection?
Here are ten great resources for ways to celebrate with Mother Earth!!
1. Attend an Earth Day Celebration or Teach In.
Many cities in both Canada and the US organize Earth Day events. Check your local newspaper or the EPA's website for event listings and locations. You can even participate in Earth Day events through Twitter! Check out Earth Month's Twitter Chats.
2. Go out and Appreciate Nature!
Take fifteen minutes out of your lesson, activity or day to go for a walk, sit in silence or just play outside. There are many known health benefits to spending time outdoors, and it helps you to truly understand why protecting the natural environment is so important. Open your senses, calm your mind, and look closer at what surrounds you!
3. Get to know your eco-heroes.
Here's a great lesson plan from ReadWriteThink that helps students understand the major voices in the environmental movement.
4. Organize a Toy or Clothing Swap!
Reduce your need for new products by trading with others! There are probably plenty of items in your home that aren't useful to you anymore. Why not bring them into your school, workplace or community center and give them away to others! You might even come home with something new yourself. Check out this video made by the Super Stewards of Port Alberni to learn more about it.
5. Upcycle to create some great new toys!
Check out the Kid's Activity Blog for some great ways to use recyclable materials to create new toys for your kids or students!
6. Grab a good book.
There are plenty of good books that promote environmental protection out there for all ages. Check out babble.com's guide to Excellent Earth Day Kids Books, or PBS'S Green Reads for recommendations.
7. Take part in NASA'S #GlobalSelfie Event
Join NASA April 22 as they encourage people all over the world to step outside and celebrate environmental awareness. Anyone, anywhere on the globe, can participate by posting a "selfie" with their local environment as a backdrop. Post your photo to Twitter, Instagram or Google+ using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie or to the event groups on Facebook and Flickr. Photos tagged #GlobalSelfie will be used to create a mosaic image of Earth. For details on how to participate, visit:
8. Research A Cause and Get Involved!
Real, effective solutions are created every day by people like you and me. If you can think of a cause, you can find a community to help you with it! You can create pledges, petitions, and online letter mailing campaigns. "Be the change" in your own community!
9. Support Environmental Education Funding For the Future.
Join the Earth Day Network in completing their challenge of A Billion Acts of Green.
Sign the petition to ensure that there is continued support of "The National Environmental Education Act; important EPA grants; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Bay-Watershed Education and Training Program and Environmental Literacy Grants; or the University Sustainability Program, among others."
10. Make your voice heard. Take the time to speak to your friends and family about the causes that matter to you. Write an article. Make a video. Find a whole new way to express what you think needs to be said.
It may feel like it's common knowledge, but many people aren't aware of environmental issues in their own community. The more we discuss our problems, the faster we will find solutions.
What will you be doing this Earth Day? Let us know in the comments below!!
References and Resources:
Layton, Julia. "Top Ten Ways to Celebrate Earth Day." Howstuffworks article. Sourced online April 21, 2014.
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. May 6, 2013. "Gaylord Nelson and Earth Day: the making of the modern environmental movement." Retrieved online April 21,2014.
USEPA. March 14, 2014. "Earth Day Info". Retreieved online April 21, 2014. http://www.epa.gov/superfund/students/earthday.htm
Roach, J. April 21, 2014. "Earth Day 2014: How it BEcame a Global Environmental Event." National Geographic Online Article. Retrieved April 21, 2014. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/04/140421-earth-day-2014-facts-environment-epa/#close-modal