Earth Day is celebrating its 52nd birthday this year on Friday, April 22nd, and the theme is “Invest in Our Planet”. The holiday began in 1970, when the world was fed up with the polluting effects of the industrial era – with contaminants seeping into our groundwater, fogging up our skies, and disproportionately affecting our most vulnerable communities.
A Wisconsin senator by the name of Gaylord Nelson, who was inspired by anti-war student activists, had the idea for a nation-wide teach-in to bring environmental awareness to college campuses. He managed to rally the support of both democrats and republicans – arguing that the issue of saving our planet is a non partisan one. With the help of other political figures, community organizers, colleges and universities, word spread of environmental teach-ins happening in between campus spring breaks and finals (April 22nd).
The name of the teach-ins eventually changed to Earth Day, and 20 million people participated in the event! They contributed in ways that expressed their individual interests and strengths – some rode bikes to demonstrations instead of driving to bring awareness to the negative effects of fossil fuels in our atmosphere. Some took to neighborhoods and streets to clean up their communities by picking up trash. Some folks planted trees, and helped manage wild spaces. People came together to serve and celebrate our planet.
From this first Earth Day came the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of other first-of-their-kind environmental laws, including the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act.
It is 2022, Earth Day is 52 years old, and it still falls on the 22nd of April. It is still a day where individuals come together to clean, bike, plant, celebrate, steward, connect, and demonstrate. This Earth Day we are reflecting on the steps our community is taking to be more sustainable, and the organizations that come together on Earth Day (and all other days) to encourage and motivate people to connect with the earth and take action..
Here are some ways our community is coming together to Invest in Our Planet:
The Zero Waste School pilot program is officially launching this month! This MCPS program is partnering with Home ReSource to bring zero waste into elementary school cafeterias starting with Russell Elementary.
Conservation Calendar for ways to get involved all year round.
We also want to take the time to remind ourselves that there is no such thing as a perfect activist (or maybe remind ourselves that we are all perfect activists?). The phrase “zero waste” can intimidate or
deter folks from learning more about this crucial sustainability initiative that supports a healthy functioning earth while increasing green jobs and community connectedness.. Here’s how we like to think of it…..
Zero waste is not depriving ourselves – it’s recognizing that we have the choice and the power to reduce, reuse, and refuse. For now, though, say yes to reuse, to celebration, to connecting with others and taking action.
Happy Earth Day, and thanks for all you do!