Earth Day was held for the first time in 1970. Back then, over 20 million Americans joined in the celebration. Now, in its 49th year, over a billion people in 192 countries are expected to participate in Earth Day. According to Earth Day Network (EDN), the huge amount of participation makes Earth Day the largest civic holiday in the world.
The creation of Earth Day gave a voice to environmental issues and continues today. It’s credited with starting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
Earth Day 2019 focuses on protecting endangered and threatened species. The Protect our Species campaign this year is focusing on:
- Educating and raising awareness of the accelerating extinction rates for millions of species, and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.
- Achieving major policy victories that protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats.
- Building and activating a global movement that embraces the environment and its values.
- Encouraging individual action, such as adopting a plant based diet and stopping pesticide and herbicide use.
The Earth Day Network is committed to being a proactive part of the solution. As a result, it created a variety of toolkits to support anyone who wants to contribute too.
This Earth Day and every day of the year, everyone can change the world by simply starting in one’s own neighborhood. Join friends, family, and neighbors together, then volunteer with organized educational, civic, or outdoor programs. You can also create your own event to help protect the environment for future generations. Ready to begin? Here are 9 simple ways anyone can take action on Earth Day or any day of the year.
1. VOLUNTEER AT AN EARTH DAY EVENT.
Let Earth Day be the starting point for year-round volunteering! To get started, check with your local parks, schools, city government, churches, and civic groups. The Forest Park Conservancy in Portland, Oregon, for example, schedules weekly events to restore native habitats and maintain trails. Volunteers are an important part of their trail maintenance and improvement projects. The Forest Park Conservancy welcomes folks to sign up to volunteer. “We encourage everyone in Portland to think about protecting the environment every day of the year,” says Renee Myers, FPC Executive Director. Together, we can ensure amazing places like Forest Park are healthy for future generations.”
2. PLANT A TREE.
In anticipation of the Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, EDN wants to plant 7.8 billion trees by 2020! Contact your local arboretum, park district, school, city hall, or nonprofits such as the Arbor Day Foundation, ACTrees and American Forests. Furthermore, plant some in your own backyard! Register your event with EDN. You can also contact local officials and use social media to urge others to plant trees in your city.
3. STOP OR REDUCE USE OF DISPOSABLE PLASTICS
Get your friends together in order to collect plastic, metal, glass, and old electronics. Take electronic materials to an e-waste recycling facility to make sure they’re properly handled and recycled. According to EDN, the United States produces up to 50 million tons of e-waste, yet only 20-25% is recycled safely. This, means the other 75% ends up in landfills. In addition, consider donating old wireless phones and accessories in any condition, from any service provider, to HopeLine® from Verizon. Verizon donates wireless phones to local shelters and non-profit organizations for use by victims and survivors. These phones not only serve as a vital link to support services, they also provide safe communication to family, friends, and employers.
4. HOST A RECYCLING DRIVE.
Each year over 100,000 marine animals and a million birds die from ingesting and choking on plastic. Eliminate unnecessary plastic from your life. To do this, start using reusable water bottles, travel mugs, and grocery bags. Furthermore, use social media to encourage others.
Over one billion people in 192 countries are expected to participate in Earth Day activities, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
— Earth Day Network
5. HOST AN EVENT TO CLEAN AND BEAUTIFY YOUR COMMUNITY.
Get a group of friends together to clean your local park, school grounds, or neighborhood streets. Next, pick up trash and then recycle the cans, bottles, and plastic. Finally, celebrate your accomplishments by planting some flowers and trees!
6. OPT OUT.
You can save trees and reduce landfill waste with by making a quick phone call or sending an email. Take time on Earth Day to contact retailers who send unwanted catalogs and direct mail packages that end up in the trash. Opt for emails instead. Furthermore, change your paper billing statements to online statements. Lastly, start a social media campaign to encourage your friends and family to do the same.
7. PLANT YOUR OWN VEGETABLE GARDEN.
8. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FARMER’S MARKET.
Buying produce from local farmers not only guarantees you fresher fruits and vegetables, but it also helps the environment. According to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. This uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels). Sustainable agriculture, however, uses fewer resources and reduces pollution to our water, land, and air.
9. CONSERVE ENERGY.
Walk, ride your bike, take public transportation, or car pool to work and social activities. In addition, turn off lights and unplug appliances and chargers when not in use. Take shorter showers and don’t leave the water running when brushing your teeth or washing dishes.
Tell us what you’re doing to celebrate Earth Day! Have a great idea to protect our environment? Share it with us.
Are you ready to make your mark volunteering? Want to connect with local nonprofits and other businesses? Let NobleHour help you find meaningful opportunities in your community.
Since 2007, NobleHour has proven to be the volunteer management solution for organizations across the nation. With its robust online platform, NobleHour enhances community engagement with a variety of innovative and transformative tools for finding, tracking, and measuring volunteer, service‐learning, and community service initiatives. With offices in Lakeland, FL, and Portland, OR, the NobleHour team is dedicated to empowering good in communities across the country.
By NobleHour Special Contributor:
Contributing Writer / Blogger
Greater Chicago Area
Public Relations and Communications
Dolly Duplantier is a freelance writer, editor, and social media specialist. She is the mother of three children, one college graduate, one in college, and one in high school. Writing about people and organizations making a difference is one of the best aspects of her job!