By Joanna George
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans came together to celebrate the first-ever Earth Day. This historical event launched an environmental movement that has led to the passing of many laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. (1)
The Earth Day movement has evolved into a global event that over 1 billion people participate in across 192 countries. (1)
This year, the focus of Earth Day is to “Protect Our Species,” and the goals of this campaign are:
Educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.
Achieve major policy victories that protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats.
Build and activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values.Encourage individual actions such as adopting plant-based diet and stopping pesticide and her bicide use. (2)
Whether you choose to celebrate Earth Day by participating in an event or raising awareness on social media, here are five other ways that you can make a difference on April 22nd.
Recycle: The average person generates over four pounds of trash each day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year. The EPA estimates that 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable, but only 30% of it is recycled. (3) Recycling reduces the amount of waste going to landfills, conserves natural resources, and prevents pollution. (4)
Planting Trees: It has been estimated that between 3.5 billion to 7 billion trees are cut down each year, which leads to negative effects for the environment, such as increased level of carbon dioxide in the environment. (5)
Burn Less Gas: Vehicles produce about one-third of all America’s air pollution. (6) Ways that we can cut down on air pollution are by taking a walk, biking, or carpooling, when the weather is nice and warm.
Drink Less Bottled Water: According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, plastic debris kills millions of birds and fishes each year, as well as an estimated 100,000 marine mammals. (7) Drinking less bottled water is a great start to using less plastic in general. Also, you will save money by doing so.
Use Less Electricity: Electric companies use fossil fuels such as coal to produce electricity. Burning coals create sulfur dioxide which causes air pollution. (8) When you consume less electricity, you reduce the number of toxic fumes released by power plants, as well as conserve natural resources and protect ecosystems from destruction. By taking steps to reduce your energy intake, you’ll contribute to a healthier and happier world. (9)
Joanna George is a senior at Tappan Zee High School and completing her Senior Seminar Internship project with the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York.