How to celebrate Earth Day in 2021
Here are some tips to make April 22 especially impactful this year.
Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22 and is a worldwide phenomenon that people of all ages participate in. It's a great global event to spark awareness about the state of the environment we live in. Climate change, among other environmental changes due to human influence, is a growing concern that many young adults and even kids are starting to rally around. In recent years, movements such as Fridays for the Future have been calling for local communities and governments to ensure that our communities today, and for generations to come, have good health thanks to clean air quality, water, and food sources. Here are some tips on how to celebrate Earth Day in 2021.
History Behind Earth Day
Earth Day began in 1970 after growing public consciousness around events that were threatening to mar our pristine lakes and rivers, such as smog, oil spills, and other industrial polluting sources. Local communities were concerned about what they were seeing in their own backyards, and following the massive Santa Barbara oil spill, Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin decided to fuel public rage into actionable change.
Celebrating Earth Day on April 22
Senator Nelson came up with the idea of hosting rallies on college campuses, as students at that time were a big part of the anti-war movements. They chose the date, April 22 simply because it was between Spring Break and exams, so more students would be able to participate. Senator Nelson worked with congressman Pete McCloskey and activist Denis Hayes to inspire more people. They built a team of national staff and organization groups and supporters, and named the event Earth Day to spark greater support and media attention.
Impact of Earth Day
The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 helped to bring together groups with similar interests and also put pressure on the government to take action. This organized event prompted the passing of the first series of environmental protections including the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Clean Air Act, and the National Environmental Act. It also prompted the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency to focus on protecting the environment. This single event showed how great of an impact the demonstration was able to have. In 1990 Earth Day became global, and reached over 141 countries and 200 million people.
This day is truly significant as it has had such a large influence on all the positive changes implemented to protect the Earth. Even though it is only one day out of the year, it serves as a reminder to everyone to come together to bring about positive change.
Events to Celebrate Earth Day Across the World
There are plenty of local events all around the world, but if you are looking for something bigger, you are sure to find larger events to celebrate Earth Day. Along with the global climate summit, which you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home, there are other events you can attend virtually this year.
New York hosts one of the biggest outdoor rallies and events in Union Square. It aims to connect companies and allow people to learn more about environmental campaigns. This year, due to the COVID pandemic, organizers have moved the event online – check out The Earth Day Initiative for more information.
Another large Earth Day event is typically located in Tokyo at Yoyogi Park. The event features a Tokyo Vegetarian Festival, eco-conscious musicians, organic and sustainable products and businesses and speakers. People can come to learn about sustainable living as well as experience eco-friendly business to start making better choices. This year, the event will also be held online; you can learn more at the Earth Day Tokyo site.
Tips to Celebrate Earth Day Right From Your Home
You don’t need to participate in a formal event to be a part of Earth Day -- you can celebrate it right in your own home with family and friends. Here are some ideas on how you can do your part to protect the environment.
These days many things are made with recyclable material and can make a huge impact on reducing the waste that we create. With all the waste we use and accumulate, our landfills are becoming a larger percentage of our earth. Our waste is not only sitting in our landfills but also getting into our waterways. While it may be slightly more challenging to switch completely into using all sustainable products, recycling can be a great way to make sure you are decreasing the amount of waste you produce. Recycling can seem like a complicated process, but there are many resources that can tell you how to properly dispose of your recyclable products.
Avoid Plastic Products
Plastic is one of the more damaging materials for the environment because it takes such a long time to break down. While many plastic disposables are technically recyclable, most do not make it there. Plastic is very inexpensive to produce, and many find it easier to just throw it away rather than recycle it. Single-use plastics such as water bottles, plastic utensils, and plastic bags have a shape that also make it more difficult to recycle.
Plastic products are so deeply integrated into our lives that we may not think twice about throwing a plastic spoon or straw away after we use it. However, the harmful effect it has on the buildup of waste and to marine life such as sea turtles make it one of the most pressing problems today. The best way to combat this is to reduce our usage of plastic disposables, or find better alternatives for them. There are many eco-friendly products that have the same convenience as single-use plastic products, such as LifeMade’s line of compostable straws and earth-friendly cutlery.
While this can be a bit challenging with our busy everyday lives, small changes to the everyday routine can help limit the amount of CO2 emissions. Transportation accounts for a large percentage of CO2 emissions and just by carpooling we are able to reduce that. Especially if you are going to the same destination, carpooling is a great way to become more friendly to the environment. This may not be possible for everyone, but taking public transportation or even biking or walking when you can is a great personal change and more eco-conscious choice.
Change Your Eating Habits
Some positive changes that are easy to incorporate into your lifestyle are to try to eat more locally sourced foods. This not only helps to support local farmers and smaller businesses, it also helps to limit fossil fuels. A lot of our produce travels quite a long way before making it to our plates, which generates a large amount of fossil fuel used. This adds to the air pollution created. One of the easy ways to start is by creating a home herb garden in your backyard or windowsill so you have access to fresh herbs. This lessens what you bring home from the supermarket.
Another diet change is to reduce your intake of meat. If you’ve ever considered becoming vegetarian or vegan, you’ll be delighted to know that it not only helps to save animals, but also has positive environmental effects as well. The production of meat accounts for one of the largest percentages of greenhouse gases. It also takes up land and takes up a lot of water to produce. While eliminating meat entirely can seem like a dramatic change, small changes like Meatless Mondays or eating one plant-based meal per day can be a great start towards a more sustainable future.
Volunteer Your Time
Your time is extremely valuable, and we need all hands on deck in order to help clean up our environment. We have a serious waste problem, and we have limited resources to help combat this. Parks, beaches, and roads can be great local places to start cleaning up. It is also a fantastic way to get more people involved. There are many organizations that need more volunteers to help with the work that they do. Not everyone has the resources to donate money, but donating your time is a great free way to help the environment.
You can gather a group of friends or join an organization. There are many other activities to do besides cleaning up. You can help plant more trees and flowers, help care for wildlife, volunteer time on a farm, plant a community garden, or help to organize local events. There are a number of different ways to help out, and there is so much to be done.
Donate to Organizations
Similarly, not everyone has the time to volunteer, but donating to organizations that are working on addressing climate issues is also a great way to help out. There are many groups, nonprofits, or organizations that are seriously underfunded. Donating money helps them with the resources they need to improve the environment. Make sure to always research the organization before donating your money. If you are interested in making a positive impact, but have little time to physically help out, funding can go a long way for dedicated organizations.
Join an Organization
There are many different organizations that encompass different focuses regarding the environment. This is a great way to get involved, especially if you are having trouble finding ways to help. This also helps to keep yourself accountable and make sure you are focusing on improving the environment not just on Earth Day, but beyond that as well. You can find an area that sparks your interest and start with making changes in that area.
We hope these ideas help inspire you to make Earth Day 2021 a very special day.