By: NobleHour Special Contributor Dolly Duplantier
The very first Earth Day was held in 1970 and over 20 million Americans joined in the celebration. Now, in its 46th year, over one billion people in 192 countries are expected to participate in Earth Day activities, making it the largest civic observance in the world according to Earth Day Network (EDN), the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement.
Earth Day gave a voice to environmental issues, and is credited with the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
This year, you can continue to help change the world by just starting in your own neighborhood. Join your friends, family, and neighbors and volunteer with organized educational, civic, or outdoor programs. Or, you can even create your own event to help protect our environment for future generations. Ready to begin? Here are 10 simple ways you can take action on Earth Day or any day of the year.
1. Volunteer at an Earth Day Event.
Check with your local parks, schools, city government, churches, and civic groups. Let Earth Day be the starting point for year-round volunteering! The Forest Park Conservancy in Portland, Oregon, is celebrating Earth Day at a variety of park sites. Volunteers are an important part of their trail maintenance and improvement projects and they are expecting about 100 people at their events this year. "The Forest Park Conservancy welcomes folks to sign up to volunteer with us on April 23rd,” says Renee Myers, FPC Executive Director. “We will be removing invasive species and maintaining trails. We encourage everyone in Portland to think about protecting the environment every day of the year. Together, we can ensure amazing places like Forest Park are healthy for future generations.”
2. Plant a Tree.
Earth Day’s Global theme this year is Trees For Earth. In anticipation of the event’s 50th anniversary, EDN wants to plant 7.8 billion trees by 2020! Contact your local arboretum, park district, school, city government, or nonprofits like the Arbor Day Foundation, ACTrees and American Forests to see where you can volunteer to plant trees. Or, plant some in your own backyard! Register your event with EDN. You can also contact your local officials and use social media to urge others to plant trees in your city.
3. Host a Recycling Drive.
Get your friends together and collect plastic, metal, glass, and old electronics. Electronic materials can be taken to an e-waste recycling facility to make sure they are properly handled and safely recycled. According to EDN, the United States produces up to 50 million tons of e-waste. Only 20-25% is recycled safely and responsibly. The other 75% ends up in landfills. You can also donate no-longer-used wireless phones and accessories in any condition from any service provider to HopeLine® from Verizon. Verizon donates wireless phones to local domestic violence shelters and non-profit organizations and agencies for use by victims and survivors. These phones serve as a vital link to support services and provide a safe line of communication to family, loved ones, and employers.
4. Stop or Reduce Your Use of Disposable Plastics.
According to EDN, each year over 100,000 marine animals and one million birds die from ingesting and choking on plastic. Take the pledge today to eliminate unnecessary plastic from your life. Start using reusable water bottles, travel mugs, and grocery bags. Use social media to encourage others to join you!
5. Host your Own Event to Clean and Beautify Your Community.
Get a group of friends together to clean your local park, school grounds, or neighborhood streets. Pick up trash and recycle the cans, bottles, and plastic. Celebrate your accomplishments by planting some flowers and trees!
6. Opt Out.
You can save trees and reduce landfill waste with a quick phone call or email. Take some time on Earth Day and contact all those retailers who send you catalogs and direct mail packages that just end up in the trash. Opt for emails instead. Start a social media campaign to encourage your friends and family to do the same.
7. Plant Your Own Vegetable Garden.
Don’t have the space? Consider a container garden or find a community or school garden to share your green thumb. Even better - find a community garden that donates their harvest to a local food bank.
8. Support your Local Farmer’s Market.
Buying produce from local farmers not only guarantees you fresher, more delicious fruits and vegetables, but it also helps the environment. According to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate using large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels). Sustainable agriculture uses fewer resources reducing the pollution to our water, land, and air.
9. Conserve Energy.
Walk, ride your bike, take public transportation, or car pool to work and social activities. Turn off the lights and unplug appliances and chargers when not in use. Take shorter showers and don’t leave the water running when you brush your teeth, wash dishes, etc.
10. Sign Earth Day's climate petition.
Keep the heat on world leaders to be at the UN this Earth Day! Tell local, national, and international leaders to phase out carbon. Use social media to motivate others to do the same!
Tell us what you're doing to celebrate Earth Day! Have a great idea to protect our environment? Share it with us. Are you looking for meaningful service opportunities to make a difference in your community? Sign up for your free NobleHour account today to find volunteer events in your area.
Dolly Duplantier is a freelance writer, editor and social media specialist. She is the mother of three children, two in college and one in high school. She is constantly learning from them and loves volunteering for their schools and sports teams. Writing about people and organizations who make a difference is one the best aspects of her job!