By Kelly Maue
There are countless ways to connect with Mother Earth. Walk barefoot in the grass or wade in a creek. Hike a rocky trail or marvel at the beautiful scenery, sunset, or wildlife.
Spending time in nature is not only enjoyable – it’s linked to better health. For example, studies have shown that feeling connected to nature for twenty minutes or more each day reduces the stress hormone cortisol levels. Other advantages can include improving one’s concentration, memory, and overall mood.
So, if Mother Earth is helping us stay happy and healthy, shouldn’t we return the favor?
April 22nd is our annual reminder to do just that. Founded in 1970 by US Senator Gaylord Nelson, the first Earth Day was in response to a west coast oil spill. It mobilized millions of Americans in a grassroots effort to protect the planet, starting an environmental revolution. This wave of activism included the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of legislation like The Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
Other nations followed suit, and Earth Day has become a global experience. Now, 52 years later, it’s the world’s largest civic event each year. It’s estimated that 1 billion people (15% of the world’s population) participate in Earth Day annually. This year’s theme is Invest in Our Planet.
Taking steps to invest in Mother Earth and improve her overall health isn’t just the right thing to do – it is vital to our existence. Government, industry, and individuals can all help in big and small ways. So, to celebrate Earth Day 2022, take action.
Plant a tree
Millions of acres of the world’s forests are lost every year. And it’s estimated that humans have cleared approximately half of the planet’s tropical forests.
Planting trees is perhaps one of the best ways to celebrate Earth Day. It’s also one of the easiest ways to take harmful CO2 out of the atmosphere and take on the climate crisis. Trees cut carbon, but they also purify the air by removing pollutants. In addition, tree canopies help regulate temperatures and provide essential habitat for wildlife. For all the good they do, it’s understandable why people hug trees!
Whether it’s a community-wide effort or a solo venture, anyone can help make our planet cleaner and greener.
Pull trash out of a waterway or pick-up discarded plastic in the park. If everyone did just a little, the reward would be a lot. Just imagine if everyone cleaned up and pitched in!
End single-use plastic
Ten percent of all human-generated waste is plastic. Single-use straws, utensils, water bottles, and shopping bags (including those extra produce bags!) are all culprits. Easy swaps include using stainless steel straws (or no straws) and other reusable versions of the same utensils, water bottles, and cloth shopping bags. Keeping these items in your car or purse makes it convenient and easy to go green.
Help the bees and butterflies
Pollinators are essential to our food supply and the overall health of our planet. Plants, including flowering crops, can’t create seeds without pollination. Our flying friends provide this service by spreading pollen from flower to flower. You can help protect these essential workers by planting native plants around your home and going pesticide-free!
Resist Fast Fashion
The fashion industry is known for its enormous amount of waste. It not only strips the planet of resources, but it’s also responsible for over 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions as tens of millions of tons of textiles are dumped and incinerated each year.
Instead of buying lots of new and cheap clothes, focus on quality over quantity. Natural materials like organic cotton, linen, and hemp are better for the environment than plastic-based polyester and nylon. Another responsible choice is 100% recycled fabrics. Research and support those brands that practice sustainability. Or give clothes a second life when you buy second hand.
It’s never been easier to recycle.
Everyday items like cans, milk jugs, cardboard, and plastic can be easily disposed of in recycling bins. For most of us, it’s part of the daily routine. It’s taken away along with our trash. If you don’t have a service that picks up recycling, there are drop-off sites.
Special items like batteries, old paint, and electronics can be taken to designated recycling centers. It may cost a small fee, but certain things shouldn’t go into a landfill.
Give an old item new life! The possibilities are endless.
Update worn furniture with chalk paint. Turn wine corks into a custom bulletin board. Add architectural interest with old windowpanes. Upcycle an unwanted item and transform it into a beloved treasure. And if you’re unsure where to start, let Pinterest be your guide.
Make your voice heard
Speak up! Communicate about climate.
Research tells us that people tend to care more about an issue when they hear others in their circle talking about it. Discuss both climate problems and solutions. Invite friends and family to participate in a recycling event or a community clean-up.
Look for opportunities to speak up in the workplace. Try to educate and inspire your company to make better – and greener – choices.
Whether casting a ballot or buying a product, there are always options. And a little research goes a long way.
When deciding between political candidates, find those whose views and voting records align most closely with your ideas. And the same goes for finding out what products to buy and which companies to support. Again, websites like this can help www.earth911.com as you look for greener solutions.
Prepare our youth
This Earth Day, educate children about taking care of the planet. Teach them about reusing, recycling, and using less energy. Go hands-on with composting or gardening. And don’t forget a nature walk.
We must get young people interested in our environmental challenges. It’s these children, and their own, who will be living with the cascading consequences of climate change and pollution. It’s up to leaders from these younger generations to engage and challenge other young people to do the same.