Every year, as Earth Day rolls around, it’s important to take note of its origins. Earth Day 1970 – which placed environmental concerns right up there with the anti-war and civil rights movements – was supported by Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urban dwellers and farmers, CEOs and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.
The brainchild of Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, Earth Day was “a national teach-in on the environment.” On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans demonstrated for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to- coast rallies.
It was neither politically partisan nor controversial.
Today, Earth Day is recognized around the world on April 22, although festivals and rallies often are organized on the weekends before or after. Many communities also observe Earth Week or Earth Month, sponsoring a series of environmental activities throughout the month of April.
In Lafayette, we are celebrating Earth Day on Sunday April 23 in the streets near the Lafayette Library, from 11 am to 3 pm. So the No. 1 thing you can do to observe Earth Day is to come over with your family, friends and neighbors. Being surrounded by like-minded people might be as inspiring as the impressive array of vendors and exhibitors that Sustainable Lafayette has lined up for the event.
Here are nine other things you can do to get in the Earth Day spirit:
No. 2: Volunteer. Pick a non-profit whose environmental mission appeals to
you and get in touch. You can work in the office or hack weeds on a trail or host a fund-raiser.
No. 3: Get out your car. Carpool, tele-commute, ride a bike or walk.
No. 4: Pick an environmental issue and contact the appropriate elected official – local, county-wide, statewide or national. “Share” an email or letter with your friends and fire them up, too!
No. 5: Install solar panels … or at least do some research to see if your house is a candidate and if it’s financially feasible.
No. 6: Change your lightbulbs. Prices on LEDs keep dropping.
No. 7: Pay online. Save paper and protect yourself from mail theft.
No. 8: Skip your shower! Just for the day, not the whole year. But keep washing your hands.
No. 9: Eat less red meat. Animal agriculture is estimated to produce more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation industry combined.
No. 10: Read – or re-read – Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.” The book documents the detrimental effects of the indiscriminate use of pesticides, most notably DDT, on the environment and particularly on birds. It became a rallying point for the environmental movement in the 1960s, culminating in Earth Day.
For more ideas about how to transform your home and your community into a more sustainable place with enhanced quality of life for current and future residents, please visit sustainablelafayette.org.