The folks who launched the first Earth Day in 1970 had no idea we’d still be acknowledging it today.
Some 20 million Americans made their voices heard about various issues that day. Including toxic drinking water, air pollution and the effects of pesticides.
This led President Richard Nixon to create the Environmental Protection Agency. That was followed by a number of laws. Such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
Today is the 51st annual celebration of Earth Day. The global theme this year is “Restore Our Earth.” Earth Day 2021 will include activities involving 1 billion people in 192 countries.
According to EarthDay.org, the focus will be on natural processes. As well as emerging green technologies. And innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems.
‘Largest Secular Holiday’
Earth Day is coordinated by the non-profit Earth Day Network. This organization is chaired by the first official Earth Day organizer, Denis Hayes.
He says Earth Day is now, “the largest secular holiday in the world.”
But the origin of Earth Day is generally credited to Gaylord Nelson. He’s a former Wisconsin senator, environmentalist, conservationist and activist.
He was inspired to launch what was originally an environmental teach-in. That was after he witnessed the effects of the Santa Barbara, California, oil spill in 1969.
A Handful of Campaigns
There are five Restore Our Earth campaigns. They are the Canopy Project, Food and Environment and the Great Global Cleanup. Plus Climate Literacy and Global Earth Challenge.
The Canopy Project involves reforestation efforts. They take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. As well as regulating temperatures and providing a habitat for animals. Plus stabilizing land from erosion and improving soil health.
The Food and Environment initiative focuses on regenerative farming. This promotes the health of degraded soils by restoring their organic carbon. The goal is to reduce erosion and water pollution, which in turn will improve the quality of produce.
The Great Global Cleanup keys in on reducing waste and plastic pollution. Climate Literacy stresses environmental education in public schools. Global Earth Challenge is a citizen scientist campaign geared toward layperson environmental projects.
Going Virtual in 2021
Most of us are staying home more these days than we used to. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate Earth Day if we want to.
In other years, Earth Day has involved different events. They’ve ranged from river cleanups to the removal of invasive plants to the planting of trees.
Some of that – and other environmental activities – will go on again today. But social distancing will limit many activities.
Replacing a number of those events this year due to the pandemic will be virtual events. Including environmental lectures and films.
What Can We Do?
Here’s what Old Farmer’s Almanac editors say. “Caring for nature, plants and the land is integral to our own health. And… individual responsibility lies with each of us.”
They offer ways to do that. While minimizing contact with people outside our households. Here are five of them:
- Support our pollinators. Bring bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinating creatures to your garden by selecting the right plants. Including flowers rich in pollen and nectar.
- Clean up plastic in your neighborhood and parks. Take a walk with a trash bag and a pair of gloves. Collect plastic items people have carelessly discarded. Recycle what you can.
- Plant a tree. Hopefully there’s room in your backyard for this. One oak tree can bring in more insect and bird species than a yard full of plants. Trees also capture carbon, benefit agriculture and cool overheated places.
- Stop using pesticides and chemicals in your garden. The key to healthy plants is healthy soil. Organic soil amendments can turn your garden into a nutrient-rich environment. So your plants can thrive.
- Conserve water. Many plants don’t need nearly as much water as they are given. Study up on this. Avoid watering garden vegetables and other plants from overhead. That can produce fungal disease. Water at soil level.
A big part of Earth Day is energy saving. Here are a few tips to accomplish that:
- Set the refrigerator temperature to between 36 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit. And the freezer to between -5 and +6 degrees.
- Clean the refrigerator and freezer units once or twice a year. Including removing dust from condenser coils, fins, evaporator pans and motors. The units will run more efficiently if they’re clean.
- Purchase Energy Star models of refrigerators and freezers. They’ll use less energy than older models.
- As much as possible, use small appliances. Such as toaster ovens and slow cookers rather than large ones such as ranges. Small appliances use less energy.
- Use a microwave oven rather than a range when possible. That will shorten cooking time, which saves energy.
- Clean or regularly replace air filters. Including ones used for furnaces, exhaust hoods, humidifiers and vacuums.
- When operating the garbage disposal, use cold water. This solidifies grease and moves it more easily through the disposal and pipes. Hot water requires energy to warm it.
The Most Important Tip of Them All
And finally, one of the most important ones is to use solar-powered products as much as possible. Using the free power of the sun dramatically cuts down on electrical usage.
Solar generators are a smart choice because they create an endless supply of life-saving electricity when you need it most – without gas, fumes or noise.
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