by Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder
Each year Earth Day is celebrated around the world on April 22nd. On this day people from around the globe are united in their efforts to educate and stress the importance for caring for our planet -- so that it can support us in term for generations to come!
The first Earth Day was held on April 22nd, 1970 following the endeavors of a determined United States Senator named Gaylord Nelson. Senator Nelson had become increasingly concerned about the poor quality of our air, water, and soil. He had every reason to be worried! At that time, pollution was at an all time high, the number of endangered species was continuing to climb, and the trash... ugh!
Senator Nelson decided finally to appeal to those he knew would be most affected -- the youth of the nation. Through campaigns on universities and colleges throughout the U.S. and by articles in Scholastic Magazine (a children's magazine), the Senator launched a campaign to increase awareness on how each of our actions affects our planet's future today, tomorrow, and for generations to come. Without people's willingness to change, the earth was truly in jeopardy.
That April in 1970 people pledged to do what they could to protect the environment. The goal of Earth Day is not to have created a single day to focus on the earth, but to inspire people across the globe to band together and protect our earth! Today Earth Day is celebrated worldwide, with many communities holding their own unique "Earth Day activities." Check out your Community Calendar or perhaps pick one (or more) of our own ideas below!
Recycling: Recycling can be as simple as washing and separating your aluminum/tin, glass, and recyclable plastics and taking to the Recycling Center. One idea is to create a flyer and distribute to the neighbors on your street. Take a moment and talk with them, letting them know about Earth Day, a brief history, and what you are trying to accomplish. Ask for them to separate their recyclables into bags and to have them ready for pickup on a particular day. *Note* you may need a truck to haul this stuff to the Recycling Center.
(Neighborhood) Yard Sale: Everyone has old, discarded "stuff" that they keep meaning to get rid of. but it never quite happens. Help organize "Yard Sale Day" in your area -- or even help get a few friends together to throw one. Your homes will benefit from getting rid of clutter. Someone else may consider your trash as their treasure. Finally, agree to take at least part of the money and do something that will benefit the earth! (See our next idea below!)
Plant trees: Whether you choose a sapling or a more mature tree, you can be certain that your gift to the earth will give back to you a hundred times over! Be careful in choosing both the type of tree that you want to plant and the area. For instance, don't plant a tree in a position where it is likely to interfere with power lines or endanger the house. Prepare the soil as recommended and take care!
Water, water, everywhere: All over the world is has become increasingly difficult to find a clean stream, pond, lake, or river. Our beaches are littered, our streams and rivers are being polluted, and the life source they support can be jeopardized. Take time out to go to an area water source. Clean up the debris and collect a water sample to send to your local agricultural department for analysis. They will be able to see if there are any pollutants in the water and take steps to clean it up.
Clean up time! Put on your gloves, grab a sturdy trash bag and hit the road -- literally! Well, at least the side of it! (Parents be certain to not choose this activity during peak traffic times). It is sickening to see just how much trash is tossed out the window and left to litter our earth! Perhaps we should work to pass a law stating anyone caught littering should be sentenced to trash detail for a day!
Conserve Resources: Sit down with your family and look around your home for ways that you can help conserve -- electricity (turn off the lights when you exit a room!); water (don't leave it running while brushing your teeth); gas (plan trips to the store around other necessary errands to save on fuel and to less air pollution too). Another idea is to look around your home to be sure it is in proper repair. Fix leaky faucets/toilets that waste water! Check your windows and doors for gaps that allow heat/cold air to escape. When replacing appliances, choose those with an Energy Star label.
Friendly Habitats: Do some research on how you can make your yard (or neighborhood park) more welcoming to natural wildlife, "good bugs", and more. Your lawn will thank you and most definitely your earth will! For ideas, check out our Audubon Day and Tadpole to Frog articles.
There are so many things that you can do to help protect our planet! Be sure to check out some of our favorite Earth Day Websites and together, let's help!
Julie Snyder is a mom of six, interested in kids, pregnancy, birth, people and lives in the outlying Seattle area. Melissa Jaramillo is mom to many. She's passionate about building, encouraging, and strengthening families on this adventure known as parenthood!
Copyright © Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.