Who of you can remember the 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland? I might be giving away my age here, but I can. When I first heard of this, I said to myself, “no way did that happen. Rivers don’t catch fire.” It turns out they certainly can if they’re polluted with pesticides. A massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969 (at that time the largest oil spill ever in U.S. waters) killed numerous birds and sea life and fouled large swaths of the coast with oil. The aftermath of these environmental disasters, especially the Santa Barbara oil spill, helped inspire then Senator Gaylord Nelson to organize the first Earth Day. Earth Day was founded in 1970 as a day of education about environmental issues and has evolved into the largest civic observance in the world. Earth Day is observed every year on April 22nd. Twenty million people around the U.S. observed the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Today, according to the Earth Day Network, more than 17,000 partners and organizations in 174 countries and more than 1 billion people are involved in Earth Day activities.
As I was scouring the internet for ways on how to observe or participate in Earth Day, I came across many creative, fun ways to make an impact. I can’t list them all, but the below ideas are the ones I felt everyone could participate in and make a difference.
- Host a yard sale.
- Adopt an endangered animal.
- Start composting.
- Go paperless.
- Plant trees or a pollinator garden.
- Lower your plastic consumption.
Check with your place of employment for Earth Day opportunities, or better yet, organize your own!