EARTH DAY 2018 is Sunday, April 22! The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970, nearly 50 years ago … and the response to it was massive! Twenty million Americans showed up to participate in demonstrations, rallies, and educational programs all around the country! That was 10% of the population!
It’s amazing to look back and realize that before 1970 factories could release black clouds of toxic pollution into the air or dump tons of toxic water into our waterways, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. It was legal! At that time there was no EPA, no Clean Air Act, no Clean Water Act. There were no regulatory or legal mechanisms to protect our environment.
Fortunately for us, Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day in order to bring attention to this growing problem. After pressure from millions who showed up to protest this travesty, only months later Congress authorized the creation of a new agency, The Environmental Protection Agency, to tackle our growing environmental issues.
As we have seen the current administration and the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, are doing everything they can to dismantle these basic protections of our environment and destroy the beauty of Nature, valued so highly by the vast majority of Americans.
I find it heart-breaking that a prominent environmental advocate and gay rights lawyer, David Buckel, set himself on fire in New York on April 14, as a protest suicide against ecological destruction. The New York Times reported that it received an emailed copy of a suicide note that read, "Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result – my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves."
My dear friend and colleague Marty Adams was so touched by the story that she wrote this moving and eloquent piece about it. It’s re-printed here with her permission:
"Monks immolated themselves in protest to the Vietnam war.
This man took a serious stand about the tragic destruction of Mother Earth that we are all witnesses to, by ending his life in this dramatic and public way.
Whether we are awake to the ravages of climate catastrophe or not, it is happening. We don’t have to "believe"; this is not about faith or beliefs.
Observe that your car windshield does not need to be cleaned of insect debris nearly as often as years back: there are hugely reduced numbers of insects. Good, you might say. But insects are many creatures’ food source.
Observe that there are also fewer birds and butterflies. Look around you.
Don’t believe my observations and reporting, look up the numbers yourself.
While you are at it, look up Sixth Mass Extinction.
May this man RIP. I am sad for those who knew him and his many talents.
Find a way in your own life to participate in solutions. It can be a small step, but do something."
One hugely important small step you can take today is to reduce your use of plastic. In fact there is so much plastic pollution in our landfills, oceans, and now even in our bodies that the focus of EARTH DAY this year is on plastic.
Did you know there is a massive dump of floating garbage in the middle of the ocean, thousands of miles from the nearest land? … called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? … bigger than the size of Texas? Did you know that millions of sea birds, fish, and turtles die each year from ingesting plastic?
There are now 5 Garbage Patches! … they are a testament of our indiscriminate use of plastic. We contribute to them everyday by littering and using non-biodegradable materials. Landfill trash flows out with the rains, moves into rivers and into the ocean, where currents sweep it to the closest patch.
Did you know?
- We currently recover only 5% of the plastics we produce.
- The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year.
- Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide; more than one million every minute!
- A plastic bag has an average "working life" of 15 mins.
- In the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the entire last century.
- In the US, 100.7 billion plastic beverage bottles were sold in 2014; 315 bottles per person!
- 57% of those were plastic water bottles.
- The process of producing bottled water requires around 6 times as much water per bottle as there is in the container.
In response to our excessive plastic pollution, Earth Day 2018 is dedicated to providing the information and inspiration needed to "fundamentally change human attitude and behavior about plastics."
Chose any of these steps to get started reducing plastic use:
Here are 10 Ways to "Rise Above Plastic":
- Choose to reuse when it comes to shopping bags and bottled water. Cloth bags and metal or glass reusable bottles are available locally at great prices.
- Refuse single-serving packaging, excess packaging, straws and other "disposable" plastics. Carry reusable utensils in your purse, backpack or car to use at bbq’s, potlucks or take-out restaurants.
- Reduce everyday plastics such as sandwich bags and juice cartons by replacing them with a reusable lunch bag/box that includes a thermos.
- Bring your to-go mug with you to the coffee shop, smoothie shop or restaurants that let you use them, which is a great way to reduce lids, plastic cups and/or plastic-lined cups.
- Go digital! No need for plastic cds, dvds and jewel cases when you can buy your music and videos online.
- Seek out alternatives to plastic items that you rely on.
- If you must use plastic, try to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE), which are the most commonly recycled plastics. Avoid plastic bags and polystyrene foam as both typically have very low recycling rates.
- Volunteer at a beach cleanup.
- Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans and bottle recycling bills.
- Spread the word. Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to reduce plastic in our lives and the nasty impacts of plastic pollution.
How to make a difference? Stop using single use plastic bottles today!! And share why with everyone you know!
On Earth Day, show your appreciation for our magnificent Earth, our One and Only Home, by your actions!
With appreciation & love for our magnificent Mother Earth,
EARTH DAY NETWORK
Plastic Pollution Primer and Action Toolkit
Earth Day Network is working to secure a future free of plastic pollution. Sign their petition to world leaders, national governments, and local legislators:
Over 1 billion people worldwide will participate in Earth Day in 2018! Earth Day Network, the global coordinator of Earth Day, is building the world’s largest coalition of people united to ensure a healthy planet. Click here for more information or to join the Earth Day Network and be part of the largest environmental movement in the world!