April 22nd, 2014 marks the 44th Earth Day, a celebration of our planet and sustainability. Created by Senator Gaylord Nelson in the 1960s to promote a mass environmental movement, Earth Day is still as relevant as ever—if not more so.
The 1960s was one of the first decades of environmental activism. Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962, which touched on the use of pesticides and the dangers of these chemicals in humans and animals. In 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland lit on fire, shedding light on the problem of chemical waste disposal. While there was little talk of global warming or climate change in the 1960s, the public was slowing gaining knowledge of environmental issues and conservatism.
Earth Day caught on quickly, as Americans realized it was a day dedicated to expressing concern about the environment. In 1970, the year Earth Day was founded, environmental policy exploded and many pieces of environmental legislation were passed—the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, and more. The founding of Earth Day not only made the public more aware of the importance of environmental knowledge and activism, but it also created the feeling of urgency in creating environmental policy.
In 1990, Earth Day went global, and today there are more than 1 billion participants. In honor of the 44th Earth Day, here are five environmentally conscious activities you can do to enjoy our planet.
Sustainable Earth Day Activities
1. Plant a tree or start a community garden.
Trees are great for the environment (they sequester and store carbon dioxide), and they remind you of the importance of nature and greenery. Not to mention, trees and gardens are beautiful to look at and care after! Getting the community engaged in the environment will make them more conscious of the importance of sustainability.
2. Pick up trash around your neighborhood, school, or work, and dispose of it properly.
Littering is bad for humans and bad for the environment. Most food waste includes plastic, which is not biodegradable. Be sure to compost and recycle trash properly. Not sure what can and can’t be recycled? Here’s a guide.
3. Host a book drive and donate to your local library.
Reusing old paper or household goods instead of throwing them away is one of the most sustainable options. Books can last for years, so encourage your friends and family to donate the old books that have been sitting on their shelves for decades. Reusing books is good for the environment and good for humans—reading is sustainable for the brain!
4. Spend time outside.
The end of April is a beautiful time of year (for most of us around the country). Take advantage of the sunshine and the budding plants, and spend some time outside on Earth Day. You can run, walk, jog, or even hike on this special day. Being surrounded by nature reminds humans of the larger planet around them, and can inspire them to live responsibly.
5. Spread awareness.
Post blogs like this one on your Facebook and Twitter, or Instagram an environmentally inspired picture. While knowledge the Earth and the climate are so important, many people still don’t celebrate Earth Day. Inspire your friends to be green!