Monday, April 22nd is Earth Day. Worldwide, various events are held to support environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day events in more than 193 countries are now coordinated. This observance arose from an interest in gathering support for environmental issues and awareness.

Earth Day’s campaign for 2019 is Protect Our Species. Unfortunately, on a daily basis, we do not correlate the Earth and our environmental surroundings to our overall health and well-being. We cannot ignore the obvious connection that nature and global effects have on our lives each day. Awareness is the first step.

Earth Day Network is asking people to join their Protect our Species Campaign. Their goal is to:

• Educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.
• Achieve major policy victories that protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats.
• Build and activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values.
• Encourage individual actions such as adopting a plant-based diet and stopping pesticide and herbicide use.
Many people never consider the consequences on their health from litter, smoking in public, bad exhaust on a vehicle, dumping chemicals and oils in public spaces, just to name a few. Over time these and many other factors will continue to harm our local environment, the Earth and us.

One of the most common practices of celebration year after year is to plant new trees for Earth Day. Planting trees helps reduce pollution, increase biodiversity and avoid the loss of species It also helps our cities move toward reduction of the use of fossil fuel and closer to becoming 100% renewable.

The list of activities that can be done to support the cause, however, is nearly endless and there are activities for people of all ages and abilities. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
• Plant a vegetable garden
• Plant wildflowers
• Help pick up litter along a roadway, public park or shoreline
• Donate to a charity that helps protect the environment
• Participate in or organize a community cleanup day
• Return hangers to the cleaners
• Donate clothing and computers to charities
• Pack lunches in reusable containers instead of bags
• Fix a leaky water faucet to conserve water
• Use natural, non-toxic cleaners

One of the most visible impacts is a plastic water bottle. Regardless of the infrastructure that exists to expedite recycling, over 75% of plastic water bottles used become garbage and end up in landfills. Approximately 60 million plastic water bottles are used daily in the US alone. Nearly 18,834,000,000 end up in the landfill each year. So, consider a refillable, reusable water bottle over the disposal of plastic water bottles each day.

Many of the concepts of Earth Day may sound obvious to the older generation where much of this behavior was standard practice when they were young. Reusing is not a new idea. Seniors will remind us that they never threw away anything that could be re-purposed by them or someone they knew. Hand me down clothes, furniture, and other household items were a way of life. This thought process is regaining support with the “reduce-reuse-recycle” mantra.

There are specific planned activities for Earth Day celebrations in your local communities. You can find additional detail and all the related materials on the Earth Day Network.

Behaviors encouraged on Earth Day should be carried out every day to improve our environment for generations to come. Take a moment to enjoy the beauty of the Earth we share. Go outside – enjoy the fresh air and the sunshine, walk on the grass in your bare feet, and be in touch with nature!

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” –John Muir