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Roots to Relevance - Understanding Earth Day's History and Importance

Every year on April 22nd we celebrate Earth Day. It is a day that we call attention to the current state of the environment, our impact in it, and how to improve. Its a day of awareness for the climate crisis, endangered species, resource depletion, waste, and more troubling topics affecting our planet. It is also a day we celebrate the beauty of nature and all of its gifts to us, but how did it start?

When Earth Day Began

In 1969, at a San Francisco UNESCO conference, Peace activist John McConnell had proposed a day to celebrate and honor Earth on March 21st, however in 1970, aided by Denis Hayes a college graduate at Harvard, Gaylord Nelson organized the very first Earth Day. There is some debate about who actually got the ball rolling on Earth Day but regardless, both men played a crucial role in its initiation. As a Senator of Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, had a great deal of influence in politics which started a true environmental revolution. He actually influenced JFK to discuss conservation issues on a nationwide tour just 7 years prior to the introduction of this new educational holiday. This is not a bibliography on Gaylord Nelson, but I would highly recommend doing some research on him as his advocacy did not stop with the environment. I find his history quite inspiring.

Without an annual day of dedication, I don't believe the spread of educational awareness would quite have the same impact. I know that even amongst those that are already making climate positive changes in their own lives, it inspires even further challenges to embark upon with determination. Earth day is often a great time for school educators to incorporate environmentalism into their current teachings and inspire the youth. I know when I was a kid learning about this stuff I frequently would bring home the new things I learned to share with my family. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful transmitters of information. Occasionally it ends up like a game of telephone and the message gets a little scramble but regardless, Earth Day, is a message of great importance. We should share it loud and proud.

sign at a gathering with a heart and earth on it
Earth Advocate

Get Involved

Where Earth Day is a worldwide holiday and of great important, many town and cities organize events for their communities surrounding this time. If you want to join your community in one of these events, I recommend checking the news, newspapers, social media, or even your local governing office websites. If you don't find an event in your area, maybe its an opportunity to organize one if you have the time. If not, here are some other ways you can participate.

Get outside. This one might seem silly and not so impactful in the moment but getting outdoors can remind you of the cause for this mission. You can embrace nature and gain inspiration. Try going for a walk in the park, a hike up a mountain, a chilly dip in the pond, a kayak across the lake, a picnic in the backyard, or prop up a hammock and take a nap in the fresh air. There's limitless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors so I challenge you to get outside for even 30 minutes on this day.

Be the Change

Simple actions can have a ripple effect of positive outcomes. If you live alone or in a secluded area your actions can trigger your brain to build better habits for yourself, but if you live with others or in a densely populated area your actions can transfer into ideas, conversation, and further action to those observing you. Some very small but mighty steps you could take this Earth Day could be the first of many to come after the Holiday has passed and been forgotten. When you walk your dog today and go to scoop the poop, pick up a piece of liter at the same time. When your doom scrolling on your phone, unsubscribe to emails you no longer read to reduce digital waste. Skip the plastic produce bags at the grocery store and just put them in your cart naked (that's what I always do). Bring a reusable dish to dinner for your leftovers instead of a plastic takeout tray (I have done this and the waitress and customers next to us thought it was awesome!). Turn off the lights in the house when you're not using them. Reduce your heating by 1 degree or your cooling by 1 degree to conserve energy. Time your shower and try to cut it back by a couple minutes the next time or attempt a cooler shower which is actually better for you than a hot shower anyways. These are all changes that are microscopic but overtime can ripple into so much more.

Share it

Like I said earlier, the power that comes from word of mouth is immeasurably great. In a day of technology and social media its even greater. Share with your friends, family, and followers that you are participating in Earth Day! Share your course of action and ask them to join you. Even if you don't like anyone is reading your posts or listening to you... try. You never know how much of a ripple you can create and how much climate positive change you can inspire.

I know that its only one day, but its not the only day you can participate. Everyday is Earth Day. Continue making small steps to better the earth and your footprint on it. If you would like to press on this journey, then I hope you will consider joining our free bi-monthly newsletter with monthly blog postings. Sustainable living tips galore, encouragement, and community can be found right here at Spriggits. Either way, thank you for making a difference today and everyday forward. Happy Earth Day.

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