BUCKHANNON – Not only will millions of people across the world will be observing Earth Day Wednesday, April 22, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the very first Earth Day – definitely a reason to celebrate this Earth Day with a special environmentally-friendly activity. In fact, perhaps one you start today can become a year-round habit.
According to EarthDay.org, Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, conceived the idea for a national day focused on the environment after seeing the ravages of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1969. It said he was “so disturbed that an issue as important as our environment was not addressed in politics or by the media” that he created the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, and an estimated 20 million people nationwide attended festivities that year.
But what are some ways we can celebrate Earth Day while staying at home?
Teen Vogue suggests some simple ways to celebrate Earth Day while reminding folks that “technically every day should be a day to be kind to our planet Earth,” but Earth Day should be a day where we show appreciation to Mother Earth and get into new habits to help.
Suggestions by Teen Vogue include:
- Planting a tree because trees not only cool things down, but they also clean the air and give off oxygen.
- Riding your bike and finding transportation alternative to reduce your carbon footprint.
- Let your voice be heard about environmental causes or pieces of legislation that you believe should be passed that are good for the environment.
- Tune into Earth Day Live which includes a three-day live-stream of teach-ins, musical performances and panels about what the climate movement is doing. These are available online.
- Buy reusable bags because it has been estimated that Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year – and just the production alone for those requires 12 million barrels of oil – not to mention they take up lots of space in landfills and cause major problems for marine wildlife.
- Use a refillable water bottle to save on all the plastic bottles and reduce waste.
- Shop smart for clothes by considering purchasing gently used articles of clothing, which saves up to 30 percent less energy.
- Unsubscribe to catalogs because more than 100 million trees are cut down to produce junk mail including catalogs.
- Spend time outside because Earth is beautiful and awesome.
Locally, Moms Clean Air Force-West Virginia Field Consultant Leah Barbor, an Upshur County resident, has put together an ‘Earth Day Activism Toolkit’ to help parents work with students to celebrate the Earth by learning about issues, deepening connections, exploring solutions and using their voices to elevate justice for our beautiful planet.
“I designed this toolkit with a few different things in mind and the first and foremost is that these actions be meaningful and accessible to all of us who are in a little bit more of a remote situation,” Barbor said. “We are all in our homes right now, and I was looking for creative ways to come up with ideas so people could engage with what they already have.”
Barbor said some of the activities are age-related, and if folks do not have children around them, adults can complete activities in the toolkits, too.
“I also included some continued action because while it is important for us to celebrate Earth Day, it is important for people to keep the momentum going through the rest of the year as well,” she said. “Below each action there is a nudge for a continued action if people want to dive a little bit deeper or go a little bit further.”
Barbor said anyone can access the toolkit which includes five different activities.
“Folks could do one activity each day,” she said, adding the toolkit is available on Facebook at the Moms Clean Air Force-WV Page. “I posted it publicly there, and it is right up front and center.”
Barbor said she encourages parents to complete these activities with their children.
“This helps engage our children in something new which can be engaging and uplifting,” she said. “Everything is free and flexible in there and if people have questions, they are welcome to contact me.”
The Environmental Protection Agency also has environmental education resources including the ability to download artwork to color and display in your windows to help celebrate Earth Day with your community. The artwork is available at www.epa.gov.