Dwindling natural resources, increased global pollution, and deforestation on a massive scale – these are some of the unhappy truths that Earth Day reminds us of each year. And what is Earth Day? It is a call to global environmental awareness – an international movement to try and protect our planet and secure a sustainable future.
U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, a Harvard student named Dennis Hayes and eco-activist Paul Erlich, started Earth Day in the U.S. on April 22, 1970. Since then, it has grown into an international movement, spanning over 175 countries worldwide.
Did You Know:
- Approximately 5 million tons of oil produced in the world each year ends up in the ocean.
- Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees, 2 barrels of oil, 4,100 kilowatts of energy, 3.2 cubic yards of landfill space and 60 pounds of air pollution.
- Everyday in the United States, we produce enough trash to equal the weight of the Empire State Building.
- At least 50 million acres of rainforest are lost every year, totaling an area the size of England, Wales and Scotland combined.
- Average temperatures will increase by as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the 21st century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the current pace.
- The U.S. is 5% of the world’s population but uses 25% of its natural resources. We use one million gallons of oil every two minutes.
- The U.S. has less than 4% of its forests left.
- Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial fleet of airplanes every 3 months.
- One in four mammals is at risk of extinction – 78% of marine mammals are threatened by accidental deaths such as getting caught in fishing nets intended for other species.
What Can You Do?
Join the Billion Acts of Green movement. By taking action such as reducing your energy consumption, composting, supporting renewable energy, eating less meat and supporting environmental education, you can help the Earth Day Network work towards creating a sustainable future. The organization has already reached over 1 billion acts of green – you can help them get to 2 billion!
But you don’t need to join a movement to help the planet; by changing your lifestyle a little bit, you can achieve a lot.
- Recycle your household waste.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs in your home with energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
- Compost food and yard waste to reduce the amount of garbage going to landfills.
- Conserve water in your home.
- Take public transit or walk more and leave the car at home.
Earth Day Achievements
Some important milestones can be accredited to the Earth Day movement:
- The establishment of Environmental Protection Agency in 1970.
- The Clean Air Act of 1970
- The Clean Water Act of 1972
- The Endangered Species Act of 1973
- The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976
- The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976