This weekend, a billion people from nearly 200 countries will gather to celebrate Earth Day, a holiday that revolves around conservation and awareness of the environment. Each year, Earth Day attracts those interested in the future of our planet, as well as those looking to make a positive impact on the environment.
If you’re considering changing your lifestyle to become more eco friendly, we’ve got great news. There are lots of small changes you can make to live a more environmentally conscious life!
The History of Earth Day
The Earth Day we celebrate each year is a relatively recent holiday; in fact, the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. The origins of Earth Day can be traced back to the publication of Rachel Carson’s work Silent Spring in 1962. Carson’s carefully researched work highlighted the effect of pesticides and contaminants on the environment. Until this point, manufacturers and farmers typically used harmful pesticides and paid little attention to airborne pollutants, and Carson’s work encouraged readers not only to become more aware, but also to become better stewards of the earth, instead of wasting resources.
Carson’s book sold over 500,000 copies, and marked a watershed moment in environmental history. As social and political movements of the 1960s and 1970s made activism more prevalent, many people began to turn toward environmental concerns.
In 1969, Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson witnessed a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA. Inspired by student anti-war protests, Nelson came up with the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment,” and recruited congressmen, members of the media, and universities to draw attention to environmental concerns. On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was celebrated by 20 million Americans. The resulting protests and events lead to the foundation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Since then, Earth Day has become a global holiday, with nearly 200 countries participating each year.
Ways to Celebrate Earth Day This Year
As Earth Day approaches, you may be looking for ways to participate, or you may just be looking for ways to go green this spring. We’ve come up with seven easy ways you can support the earth this year.
Start a Garden
Growing your own vegetables, fruits, or herbs can be a fantastic way to support the environment, and is a way to limit the amount of pesticides and fertilizers you might be exposed to. Gardens also add beauty to your yard, plus delicious food for you and your family. If you’re a novice gardener, or just want to find new ideas, tips, or strategies, we offer a number of great gardening magazines to perfect your techniques!
Consider Alternative Transportation
Unless you own an earth-friendly or hybrid vehicle, it is likely that your commute to work may be releasing potentially harmful chemicals that could have an effect on global air quality and on your health. According to a 2015 study, vehicle emissions in a single country can have effects on global air quality. The study notes that “model projections based on a business-as-usual emission scenario indicate that the contribution of outdoor air pollution to premature mortality could double by 2050.” In another study that examined the effects of air pollution on a population over a multi-year period, researchers concluded:
Taken as a whole, the health studies show elevated risk for development of asthma and reduced lung function in children who live near major highways. Studies of particulate matter (PM) that show associations with cardiac and pulmonary mortality also appear to indicate increasing risk as smaller geographic areas are studied, suggesting localized sources that likely include major highways. Although less work has tested the association between lung cancer and highways, the existing studies suggest an association as well.
If it’s available in your area, taking public transportation can be a great way can be a great way to contribute to the environment, or you might consider starting a carpool with your coworkers or others who work in your area. Walking or biking to work can also be a great option.
Use Earth-Friendly Cleaning Products
Making the switch to eco-friendly cleaning products that aren’t made with harmful or toxic chemicals is also a good way to support the environment, as well as your health. The Environmental Working Group publishes an annual guide to household products that are made without potentially harmful chemicals, including cleaners, laundry products, and dishwashing aids. You can read more about cleaning tips in magazines like Real Simple or Good Housekeeping.
Invest in Reusable Bags
One of the easiest ways to go green is by swapping plastic grocery bags for reusable ones. These bags not only reduce environmental impact, but they are also more durable than traditional plastic bags. You can also use a thermos or to-go cup for your morning coffee to further reduce waste. We love these eco-friendly drawstring mesh bags— they’re perfect for holding produce or for your organizational needs. If you have trouble remembering your bag when you go shopping, try this option that can fold easily into your bag or purse. You can also send it back to Flip and Tumble for recycling when its lifecycle is finished.
In addition to supporting your local small businesses, buying products or food that is locally made and grown is the perfect way to support more conscious living. Not only does shipping burn fossil fuels, knowing how and where your products are grown allows you to make smarter choices about the food you eat and the items you use. Many cities have websites that list local businesses, or you can choose products made sustainably at family farms.
Reduce Energy in Your Home
Programmable thermostats are a great way to regulate the temperature in your home, and you can adjust it when you’re home or away. You can also look for energy star certified appliances that can reduce your electrical costs and run more cleanly and efficiently. A simple fix can also include changing your air filter, which will not only support cleaner air, but may help your heating and cooling system to operate more cost-effectively.
Of course, one of our favorite ways to become more environmentally friendly is to look for ways to make a difference both in your neighborhood and in the global community. Whether this means taking the time to plant a tree or donating to conservation groups, or marching in an Earth Day rally, taking the time to invest in an environmentally-friendly activity or group is a great way to contribute to the health of our planet.
How do you plan to get involved in Earth Day this year? Share your story in our comment section!