This weekend is Earth Day, a global celebration that revolves around awareness and conservation of the planet we call home. Celebrated on the 22nd of April this year, Earth Day is observed by over a billion people annually.
The History of Earth Day
Earth Day’s origins are attributed to the birth of the modern-day environmental movement, which was spurred by the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962. The New York Times bestselling work documented the use of harmful pesticides and the effect these pesticides had on the environment. Silent Spring called for humans to act responsibly toward the environment, acting as stewards of the earth rather than carelessly wasting resources. The book was an instant success, selling more than 500,000 copies.
This publication marked a watershed moment in environmental history. Industrial progress had been moving steadily forward, with little concern for how new cars, factories, and chemicals affected the natural world. However, new countercultural social and political movements in the 1960s and 70s began to draw attention to environmental concerns.
In 1969, Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson witnessed a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA. Inspired by student anti-war protests, Nelson came up with the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment,” and recruited congressmen, members of the media, and universities to draw attention to environmental concerns. On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was celebrated by 20 million Americans. The resulting protests and events lead to the foundation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Since then, Earth Day has become a global holiday, with nearly 200 countries participating each year.
Ways to Celebrate Earth Day This Year
As Earth Day approaches, you may be looking for ways to participate, or you may just be looking for ways to go green this spring. We’ve come up with seven easy ways you can support the earth this year.
Consider Alternative Transportation
Unless you own an earth-friendly or hybrid vehicle, it is likely that your commute to work may be releasing potentially harmful chemicals that could have an effect on global air quality and on your health. According to a 2015 study, vehicle emissions in a single country can have effects on global air quality. The study notes that “Model projections based on a business-as-usual emission scenario indicate that the contribution of outdoor air pollution to premature mortality could double by 2050.” In another study that examined the effects of air pollution on a population over a multi-year period, researchers concluded:
Taken as a whole, the health studies show elevated risk for development of asthma and reduced lung function in children who live near major highways. Studies of particulate matter (PM) that show associations with cardiac and pulmonary mortality also appear to indicate increasing risk as smaller geographic areas are studied, suggesting localized sources that likely include major highways. Although less work has tested the association between lung cancer and highways, the existing studies suggest an association as well.
If it’s available in your area, taking public transportation can be a great way can be a great way to contribute to the environment, or you might consider starting a carpool with your coworkers or others who work in your area. Walking or biking to work can also be a great option.
Use Earth-Friendly Cleaning Products
Making the switch to eco-friendly cleaning products that aren’t made with harmful or toxic chemicals is also a good way to support the environment, as well as your health. The Environmental Working Group publishes an annual guide to household products that are made without potentially harmful chemicals, including cleaners, laundry products, and dishwashing aids. We have a number of products that are made free of these substances, including bestsellers like Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soaps.
Invest in Reusable Bags
One of the easiest ways to go green is by swapping plastic grocery bags for reusable ones. These bags not only reduce environmental impact, they are also more durable than traditional plastic bags. You can also use a thermos or to-go cup for your morning coffee to further reduce waste. We love these eco-friendly drawstring mesh bags— they’re perfect for holding produce or for your organizational needs. If you have trouble remembering your bag when you go shopping, try this option that can fold easily into your bag or purse. You can also send it back to Flip and Tumble for recycling when its lifecycle is finished.
Switch to Environmentally-Friendly Cosmetics
Eco-friendly cosmetics are the perfect way to support the earth and look great at the same time. Companies like jane iredale and zoya make products without harmful chemicals and with natural ingredients. Jane iredale also makes certified cruelty free products and products that are recyclable, like this pretty rose gold refillable compact.
In addition to supporting your local small businesses, buying products or food that is locally made and grown is the perfect way to support more conscious living. Not only does shipping burn fossil fuels, knowing how and where your products are grown allows you to make smarter choices about the food you eat and the items you use. Many cities have websites that list local businesses, or you can choose products made sustainably at family farms like this delicious honey from Patz Maple & Honey Farms.
Reduce Energy in Your Home
Programmable thermostats are a great way to regulate the temperature in your home, and you can adjust it when you’re home or away. You can also look for energy star certified appliances that can reduce your electrical costs and run more cleanly and efficiently. A simple fix can also include changing your air filter, which will not only support cleaner air, but may help your heating and cooling system to operate more cost-effectively.
Of course, one of our favorite ways to become more environmentally friendly is to look for ways to make a difference both in your neighborhood and in the global community. Whether this means taking the time to plant a tree, donating to conservation groups, or taking part in Earth Day festivities, taking the time to invest in an environmentally-friendly activity or group is a great way to contribute to the health of our planet.
How do you plan to get involved in Earth Day this year? Share your story in our comment section!