Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22, is the largest secular day of observance in the world. Founded in 1970, Earth Day’s purpose is to raise environmental awareness and support environmental protection. This year marks the 51st anniversary of Earth Day.
Did you know?
- It all started in Wisconsin. The idea for the first Earth Day is accredited to Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin. He hired Denis Hayes, Harvard grad student, to help him organize the first Earth Day.
- By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of first-of-their-kind environmental laws passed by Congress including the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act, the 1972 Clean Water Act, the 1972 Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act, the 1973 Endangered Species Act, and the 1990 National Environmental Education Act. These laws have protected millions of men, women and children from disease and death and have protected hundreds of species from extinction.
- Denis Hayes took Earth Day to a global level in 1990, organizing events in 141 different countries worldwide.
- Earth Day teaches us about what we have and what we may be losing by living our lives in environmentally unfriendly ways.
- Earth Day is now celebrated globally in 193 countries with events coordinated by the Earth Day Network (EDN).
raSmith’s senior ecologist, Tina Myers, PWS, shares what Earth Day means to her. “Earth Day is a time for all nations to unite and celebrate the natural wonders on our beautiful planet. It is also a time to learn how to be stewards of the land and water and find meaningful ways to preserve, protect and restore our most cherished ecosystems for future generations. Protecting our environment means protecting our own health, so we must all do our part to improve our natural surroundings. As a child growing up in the ’70s, I remember my elementary school dedicating an entire week to environmental awareness. We picked up trash around the schoolyard, planted trees and sang songs about cleaning up the country. I was taught at a young age, by my parents and my community, to leave everything better than the way you found it. If we all think of improving our natural environment in this way, the world will be a healthier place for all who live in it. It starts with us as individuals and the contributions we make, no matter how big or small.”
There are many small changes every one of us can perform to improve our natural environment and personal health. Here are just a few simple ideas:
- Buy locally grown food and other goods whenever possible. Support farmers and companies who use organic ingredients. Buy produce from your local farmer’s market.
- Paper or plastic? Tell them neither. Bring your own reusable (washable) bags to the grocery store (and other stores when permitted). If you don’t want to use your own bag, at least return the clean, dry bags to the store and place them in the recycle bins.
- Plant a vegetable garden and grow some of your own food. Take it a step further – learn how to can and keep your pantry stocked for the winter.
- Plant more, mow less. Plant a variety of native plant species that will attract birds and insects to your yard. Also, limit or eliminate the use of herbicides in your yard. Many insect and bird species have been on the decline due to loss of habitat and use of pesticides/herbicides. There is no yard too small for a garden!
- Use rain barrels to collect stormwater runoff or build your own rain garden.
- Walk or bike to work whenever possible and talk to your employer about working from home when it makes more sense to do so.
- Instead of plastic bottles, use non-plastic reusable water bottles. There are many types of reusable water bottles that are better for your health, will keep your drink cold all day long and save you money.
- Support your local parks and natural areas. Volunteer at a nearby park to help remove invasive species or plant native seeds.
- Don’t be a litter bug. Leave only your footprints behind.
raSmith often provides opportunities for its employees to clean up the environment and enjoy nature. A few of the many ways raSmith supports Earth Day are as follows:
- Creation of a hiking group that meets at various local and state parks to experience the outdoors.
- Participation in the Adopt-A-Highway program.
- Participation in the Milwaukee Riverkeeper’s Annual Spring Cleanup. This year the cleanup takes place on April 24.