Saturday is Earth Day. Since 1970, Earth Day marks the birth of the modern environmental movement to promote stewardship of our environment.
In 1970 the goal was to raise public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and the link between pollution and public health. The U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, founded the event hopeful of gaining the energy that the anti-war movement infused into public consciousness about air and water pollution and to force the environment onto the national political agenda.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. Groups who for years had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
By the end of that first year, the creation of Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Many things to be proud of.
What can we do to make a difference in our communities and perhaps cause change? These small changes can have a big positive impact on our environment.
• Americans use 380 billion plastic bags each year, requiring 12 million barrels of oil.
Carry a washable, reusable bag to the store. Reuse those bags and recycle those you don’t reuse.
• Americans throw away 34 million tons of paper each year.
Think twice about printing out e-mails or documents, and recycle all paper. Cancel unwanted catalogs at catalogchoice.org.
• Every day every American creates an average of 4 pounds of trash.
Find out where to recycle anything — paint, cellphones — at search.earth911.com
(Sources: Earth Day History, Better Homes and Garden)
Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for more than 20 years and is a master gardener.