By: Desiree Hester
What does Earth Day Mean?
This year, April 22nd, marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Earth Day represents the birth of the modern environmental movement and a shift in the way we view our impact on our natural surroundings. The creation of Earth Day stems from former Wisconsin senator, Gaylord Nelson’s drive to educate about the damaging effects of industry on the environment, coupled with a desire to propel a national political agenda for improving the environment.
The first Earth Day was met with 20,000,000 Americans engaging in rallies across the nation. This single event lead to significant change including the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Earth Day was later spread on a global level in 1990 and continues today, with an estimated 1 billion individuals getting involved annually. So, what can you do to be a part of this great legacy and make a positive change to the planet? Check out these simple ways to make a difference at home and in the great outdoors and take action today.
What can we do for our Earth?
Go Green at Home:
One of the easiest places to start is right in your own home. Easy changes like switching to energy efficient lightbulbs, unplugging plugs when not in use, washing clothes in cold water and even adjusting the thermostat to be 1 degree colder in winter can aid in reducing the energy used at home. Other ideas include reducing toilet paper use by switching to a bidet and using natural cleaning products.
Recently, we planted our first organic garden. Gardening at home ensures that we are eating food free of harmful pesticides as well as decreasing the distance food must travel to our home. Gardening at home also allows for growing plants that support pollinators. If gardening isn’t plausible, you can seek out local farmer’s markets to obtain organic meats, dairy products and produce. Supporting local farmers helps preserve community green space and reduces the long-distance transport of goods. To get a better idea of the impact your food consumption is having on the environment, try a Foodprints calculator.
Make a Difference in the Great Outdoors:
There are numerous ways to give back to the planet through volunteering. You can find opportunities to serve with a nearby state or national park in your area or even organize a volunteer group to aid organizations like the American Hiking Society in their efforts to maintain trails and preserve public lands. Other reputable organizations allow opportunities to advocate for biodiversity, climate change, and the vitality of our natural world. More interested in flying solo? Organize a trash clean-up in your favorite local nature spot. We recently made a goal to be better stewards of our favorite trails by packing a trash bag for collecting garbage that we encounter along the trail each time we go hiking.
“Single use plastic” has become quite the buzz word of late and for good reason. It is estimated that humans are producing over 300 million tons of plastic annually with 50% being used as single-use items. Though these items might be tossed out in a moment, they contribute to a stockpile of waste that not only takes hundreds of years to decompose but may find its way amongst the more than 8 million tons of plastic dumped into ocean waters each year.
Though the statistics are staggering, the task of eliminating plastic may also feel daunting. Start by making simple switches like replacing plastic straws for sustainable bamboo straws, investing in reusable storage bags and using reusable grocery bags en lieu of single use bags. Recently, we realized how much waste we were creating while camping and decided to do an overhaul of our camp kitchen. We swapped out single use cutlery and dinnerware for durable enamelware and metal cutlery as well as significantly reducing our use of paper towels by packing dish towels from home.
This Earth Day join the global efforts of other like-minded individuals by advocating for positive change to the planet. Regardless of your individual situation you can make a difference in improving our planet for years to come!
About the Author:
Desiree is a photographer, blogger, world traveler and creator of The Wayfarer Journeys travel website. Through her words and photos she aims to inspire others to dedicate more time to being in nature and to add outdoor adventure into every trip that is taken. Desiree believes that anyone can benefit from travel and time spent in the great outdoors- no matter their skill level. Whether in her beautiful home state of Utah or while traveling abroad, she can be found hiking, back packing, camping, snow shoeing, cooking a mean dutch oven meal or out on the lake with her wonderful husband and fearless adventure pup, Waldo. You can follow Desiree on Instagram at @thewayfarerjourneys