Making your mark on Earth Day 2019
Let’s talk about Earth Day; an annual event celebrated on April 22ndworldwide in a demonstration of support for protecting our environment. Today there are a whopping 193 countries that celebrate the day, which is no small feat considering that it was started by three people. The inaugural observation of Earth Day started on April 22nd, 1970 and was launched by a trio led by U.S Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, Harvard student Denis Hayes and eco-activist Paul Erich.
There is no way to tell if the three had any idea that this event they coined with the name Earth Day would be so successful. There were an outstanding 20 million Americans that took to the streets, auditoriums, classrooms and parks to demonstrate their support for the health and sustainability of our environment. Among the 20 million it was recorded that two thousand colleges and ten thousand primary and secondary schools were in participation of the inaugural day… shout out to the Baby Boomer generation!
The wave of environmental awareness ignited by Earth Day led to some pretty amazing changes in our government which were; the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the Federal Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Based on the astounding number of educational institutes that participated in Earth Days inaugural year it was clear that young people were ready to step up and demand change and with their passion non-profits like our own would later be created. The Oklahoma Green Schools Programstrives to educate and inspire students, and this is exactly what Earth Day’s mission is.
Today Earth Day has become the largest secular day of observance in the world, with it being celebrated by more than a billion people each year. I don’t want you to think that your participation has to be some large grand gesture it can be something as simple as picking up a piece of trash on a walk, or the planting of a few trees. Just think the shade and wind buffering created by trees reduces our annual heating and cooling cost by close to 2 billion dollars annually and with 4 million pounds of plastic being dumped into the ocean each year imagine how much can be diverted if every person picked up just one piece. Earth Day has also generated an entire job industry around recycling, reuse and manufacturing that accounts for roughly 3 million jobs in the U.S.
In honor of Earth Day and my desire to make my own environmental impact I will leave you with some facts that will hopefully get you motivated to get out and do something. Consider planting a tree because every minute we lose 56 acres of forest, 18 million acres are lost each year, the amount of paper and wood thrown away every year is enough to light 50 million homes for 20 years. Even something simple like requesting a receipt be emailed or texted to you versus being printed those pesky things can’t even be recycled because of the type of treatment done to the paper. Try spending the day outside, cutting down on time spent in the car and house will cut down on the amount of greenhouse gas that is emitted by both.
Many organizations like our very own; the Oklahoma Green Schools Programparticipate in Earth Day events hosted around the state. This year we were fortunate to be invited to both University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma University and the Oklahoma Science Museum which gives us the opportunity to educate in a fun and interactive way with young people on the importance of our earth and protecting its health. I find so much hope in the next generation when I see the excitement in their eyes as they learn something new about ways to protect our planet. The genuine desire to do good and make a difference is often inspiring to entire families just through sparking that passion in the youngest member of the family.
I challenge you all to get out and inspire as many people as you can and make this year your best by doing your part to honor our planet as always Reduce, Reuse, Recycle when and where you can and be green on this beautiful holiday.