Earth Day on April 22 was a great day to highlight concerns about the way we’re looking after this planet and its environment.
But the truth is that there are really 365 Earth Days every year (or 366 in a Leap Year!) — because every day is an opportunity to consider our stewardship of the earth and what we could be doing to protect and improve our environment.
This year is actually the 50th anniversary year of Earth Day, and in the half century that has passed since its launch, a lot has happened both in terms of environmental damage and our attitudes toward it.
It’s easy to think that, as individuals, we can’t make much impact on the world around us. But the fact is that it’s the collective efforts of each person who participates in events like Earth Day that can make a difference.
Turning Things Around
This year, more than a billion people in 192 countries took part, making the event the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.
In a broadcast on Earth Day, TV network CBS reported that in a poll of Americans,
almost two thirds of respondents said they thought we are heading towards leaving an even worse environmental legacy for the next generation.
Turning things around is going to require a mighty effort by all of us. And the organization behind Earth Day — Earth Day Network (EDN) — is challenging us all to make every day an important and positive day for the global environment.
Each year, EDN focuses on a particular environmental theme. 2018’s theme was to end plastic pollution and many initiatives — from bans on plastic grocery bags to large-scale ocean clean-ups – have been implemented worldwide. Many of us are here on the Mid-Coast are still adjusting to the ban on plastic bags in Damariscotta making sure every vehicle has its own supply of reusable bags.
For 2019, the theme is to protect threatened and endangered animal species, including the humble honey bee. If you are interested in knowing what species of animals are endangered in Maine you can visit the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife website: https://www.maine.gov/ifw/fish-wildlife/wildlife/endangered-threatened-species/index.html The website also lets you know how you can support efforts to preserve native species, for example purchasing designated license plates as the Loon Plate or the Sportsman Plate.
Earth Day Activity Ideas
Even though Earth Day itself has passed, most of the campaign materials, such as toolkits for various educational purposes are still available as downloads. For the complete list of resources, visit: https://tinyurl.com/EDN-toolkits. You can also sign up on that page to receive regular updates on this year’s Protect our Species campaign.
More practically, here are some everyday things you can do to help protect our environment.
- Stop or reduce using plastic
- Take advantage of online services for banking, bill paying, etc.
- Dispose of your trash safely and in the right place.
- Organize or volunteer for local clean-ups.
- Look for ways of reducing energy use, for example by changing heating and air conditioning thermostat settings.
- Use less water — in the home and the yard. For tips on ways to do this, visit the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) page at https://tinyurl.com/EPA-water-tips
- Shop local and make more sustainable choices when you shop.
- Recycle unwanted items where possible. Join a local online recycling group. Unfortunately, as in many states, some waste products are no longer recycled in Maine because of lack of demand. Curtail use of these if you can. For more on the state’s environmental program, see: https://tinyurl.com/ME-recycling
- Commit to an “act of green” — a major ongoing initiative from EDN is to encourage people to make a single change in their lives to help the environment. This might be, for example, sending a letter to political representatives about a green issue or stopping using pesticides. EDN is aiming for 3 billion acts of green by Earth Day 2020.
While Earth Day is a global campaign, there are also opportunities to show your concern for the environment here in Maine. For instance, the Maine Organic Farmers Association was active in this year’s campaign, plus we had several Earth Day clean-ups inspired by Maine Audubon.
Local newspapers, TV, radio and social media are often great sources of information about environmental issues and campaigns. Why not make a commitment to play a greater role in caring for our environment now — and planning for Earth Day 2020?