Since 1970, April 22 has been a day to raise awareness, brainstorm for ways to reduce our carbon footprints, and take the necessary steps to do something, anything, to take better care of our Earth.
Is it working?
I was 7 years old when I walked in the first Earth Day parade in Cedar Rapids. My friend’s mother dove right into the recycling campaign and was thrilled at the idea of a parade. With unhinged excitement, she tied plastic bottles and tin cans to us and encouraged us to walk proudly down the middle of the street during the silent and dramatic statement of the horrible injustice we were doing to our Mother Earth.
The ’70s had ushered in an era of gas-guzzling monstrous cars and insane industrial growth, and no one seemed to care too much about the consequences of what it would do to the balance of nature. But one man did.
Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, took action after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. According to earthday.org, he was “inspired by the student anti-war movement, and realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.”
It wasn’t until years later that I understood the significance of that first walk. It was the beginning. And though the entire world may not understand or share the same urgency as many of us do, at least we can say we are trying. We are doing something we believe in.
Every day we are given choices that can help us do our part to raise awareness of the importance in reducing our waste, to conserve energy, to come up with better ways of doing things. Take the bus, walk or ride a bike; turn off the lights or invest in energy-saving light bulbs; plant a garden or a few trees. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Let me state that again. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
More people need to become aware of the massive impact humans are having on our beautiful Earth, and we need to learn how to take better care of her.
How am I going to celebrate Earth Day? I’m going to pick up trash in my neighborhood. It might be a little thing, but it’s some-thing.