Next week marks the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, first founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970. Back then, 20 million people participated in small events throughout the country. Today, it is a Day celebrated by an estimated one billion people in almost every nation on the planet.
This year, the Earth Day Network will observe the 40th anniversary by creating multiple global initiatives, such as increasing green investment and building a more environmentally-friendly economy, having Olympic athletes and other celebrities speak out in favour of environmental protection, and bringing on board hundreds of arts institutions and artists to help raise awareness.
In Canada, more than 6 million people, and almost every grade school in the country, stage events and projects to address important environmental issues. The Day has actually evolved into Earth Week and even Earth Month to accommodate the huge growth of programs that take place every year. In Toronto, there are literally dozens upon dozens of events. It’s almost impossible to open your local newspaper without reading about something that is happening in your area. These include walks, public forums, fairs, conventions and fundraising activities.
Earth Day Canada, the organization that promotes the celebration in our country, organizes a variety of projects that take place throughout the month. These include the Community Environment Fund, which provides grants of up to $20 million to support local environmental initiatives, Eco Action Teams, which help people all over Canada reduce energy and water use, and EcoKids, which helps teachers and schools educate students about the environment.
There is also the Hometown Heroes Award Program, which recognizes environmental leaders who foster meaningful, long-term community awareness and action, and EcoMentors, which provides the opportunity, training and resources for youth to be active in promoting positive environmental change. There’s information on how to apply for these programs, and other activities, at www.earthday.ca.
There are literally hundreds of ways to get involved. You can go to the website and click on “Events” to see what is happening in your area. If you are unable to participate in them, then why not do something closer to home? You can form an environmental committee with friends and neighbours to clean up parks and other areas of your community that day. It’s a great way to get some fresh air and enjoy the spring weather.
Still too busy to get outside? Then how about doing something in your own home, like reducing energy usage. You can use less water, buy energy-saving light bulbs, and turn off the lights when you leave a room. Simple things like these can go a long way in helping the environment.
Earth Day teaches people that our planet is more fragile than we think, and we need to create new ways of thinking and doing things to ensure that clean air and water won’t be a luxury some day. As the ancient Native American proverb says, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”
“Together We Can Make A Difference”