On April 22nd, people all around the world are celebrating Earth Day! Earth Day is a big deal (as it should be!), and it has some interesting origins. The first Earth Day celebration took place 47 years ago in 1970. Launched by Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), Earth Day was originally a nationwide teach-in, inspired by teach-ins during the Vietnam War. Senator Nelson’s goal was to create awareness surrounding the environmental issues rising at the time — and he did! Millions of people across the United States organized events in their communities and formed rallies in cities such as Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
The first Earth Day showed Senator Nelson that people were concerned about the state of the environment and were willing to make positive change. In December of 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency was established. From there, important legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, and Safe Drinking Water Act were enacted, to name just a few.
Roots & Shoots groups are organizing Earth Day events to educate community members about how and why we should care for the Earth. For example, one group is putting together a booth at their local Earth Day Festival and distributing an educational activity book that they created. Another group is celebrating with a #ChalkTheWalk Earth Day Campaign in which kids and families are encouraged to draw Truffula Trees from the book The Lorax by Dr. Suess. The project was inspired by this quote from the book:
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.
Here are 5 big ways to celebrate Earth Day:
1. Do some research. In her keynote speech to the United Nations on July 12, 2013, Malala Yousafzai said, “Let us pick up our books and our pens; they are the most powerful weapons.” Education and advocacy are two important factors in protecting the Earth. One of the best ways to do your part is to learn and continue to learn about all aspects of our planet and it’s current situation, and to speak up for what you believe is right. The March for Science occurring on Earth Day in cities around the world is a great way to participate in standing up for knowledge, innovation and environmental/wildlife protections. Check out 5 Reasons Youth are Pumped for the March for Science to find out more.
2. Fundraise. From the African savanna to the forests of New England, planet Earth hosts an abundance of awe-inspiring flora and fauna. Unfortunately, issues such as pollution, climate change, and illegal wildlife trade are compromising the futures of wildlife species and natural treasures worldwide. Fundraising for conservation organizations, raising awareness about environmental issues and making environmentally sustainable choices all contribute to the protection and restoration of our beautiful planet.
3. Plant something. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to plant a tree? You can plant a tree in your backyard or even organize a tree planting ceremony in your community! Not sure where to start? Roots & Shoots U.S. NYLC member Yanni wrote an excellent guide to planting trees that can be found here.
4. Recycle. Did you know that metals found in your electronic devices such as gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum are drawn from one of the largest chimpanzee habitats, the Congo River Basin? Mining in the Congo River Basin poses a threat to the Chimpanzees and other wildlife in the area. To prevent further mining, you can hold a cell phone recycling drive in your community or scout out electronics recycling kiosks in your community. To learn more about the Jane Goodall Institute’s Mobile Phone Recycling Day, click here.
5. Design a Roots & Shoots campaign. Roots & Shoots is a youth empowerment organization that provides valuable skills, tools, and support to help you design your own service campaign addressing an issue that matters to you. Or, hop on board and do something right away through a 1-Click Roots & Shoots Campaign. Click on a campaign that interests you for instructions and tips on starting a project or taking action for a cause.
Set aside some time to take action for the Earth in one of the big ways mentioned above. Then, promise yourself to take small actions today and every day that make a positive difference for the Earth. Every action taken makes a difference. Here’s some small ideas to get your big impact going: