April 22 is International Earth Day
Monday, April 21, 2014
The first Earth Day, celebrated in 1970, was separately spearheaded by peace activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. McConnell called for an Earth Peace Day at a UNESCO meeting in 1969, while Nelson's horror with the damages caused by the massive 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, made him wonder whether the energy of the anti-Vietnam war student movement could be channelled towards the health of the planet. Millions of Americans took to the streets and parks to rally against the destruction of our environment, and the day culminated in the creation of the American Environmental Protection Agency. Canada celebrated its first Earth Day in 1980, and by 1990, the day was honoured by hundreds of millions in 141 countries around the globe.
Today, Earth Day provides numerous opportunities for environmentally-minded Canadians. Here are a few:
- The simplest action to take on the day is to commit to a reduction in your ecological footprint. This is the amount of the Earth's natural material you consume, and the waste you generate, during your daily activities. The internet is replete with footprint calculators. You can find a science-based one here. Once you know your footprint and the areas in which you harm the planet most, you can start taking action.
- You can plant a tree on Earth Day to combat the effects of widespread deforestation. Trees support a lot of human and animal life, and help to filter and absorb some of the greenhouse gasses that result from widespread pollution. Another idea is to plant a vegetable garden so that part of your diet does not have to be industrially processed and transported.
- Earth Day Canada urges Canadians to join or establish a community clean-up program to clean their parks, playgrounds and streets. It might not sound like fun, but it is incredibly rewarding. It also helps to build communities and forge new friendships.
- You can commit to recycling programs, such as Calgary's blue and black cart programs.
- The City of Calgary will present lectures on, and practice opportunities for, green driving techniques on Olympic Plaza. Many other institutions, such as the Calgary Library and the Calgary Zoo, also have their own Earth Day celebrations.
We should all learn what we can do and take action for ourselves and future generations.
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