On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans celebrated the first Earth Day by taking to the streets and demonstrating for a healthier environment. The massive push toward sustainable management of our natural resources brought about the creation of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
Forty-one years later, Earth Day has spread to Yogyakarta, Indonesia where today zoo keepers are building compost bins to turn animal dung into natural fertilizer in order to reduce air pollution from the waste. Kuwaitis are cleaning up beaches, women in Mumbai, India are planting trees, and volunteers in British Columbia are holding e-waste recycling drives.
It’s great to know that on April 22nd people everywhere are uniting for a good cause. But what will happen on April 23rd? Or the day after that? Will Senators who roll up their shirt sleeves and pose for a publicity photo shoot with a shovel and some seeds in front of a mound of dirt actually follow through on their promises to promote fair environmental legislation? The danger of dedicating a day to a cause is that it provides people with an excuse to do something good one day a year and then ride on that sense of accomplishment for the next 364 days without accomplishing anything new.
This Earth Day, turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, take a shorter shower, and bring a reusable bag to the grocery store. And then do the same thing tomorrow. If we are ever going to make real change, EVERY DAY HAS TO BE EARTH DAY. Find a way you want to change your lifestyle to be greener; make that commitment and stick to it. You might have lost sight of your New Year’s Resolutions by this point (guilty), but don’t lose the Earth Day momentum.
Learn more about Earth Day here.