In 1970, Earth Day was instituted to increase environmental awareness and inspired groups to take action in their own neighborhoods to help protect the environment and make our communities a better place to live. Yet, many of us contain this practice of to one day a year, and every year we still have as many clean ups along riverbanks, in city parks, neighborhoods and possibly in the same places that were cleaned last year in honor of the Earth!
It is evident that the need still exists for “Earth Day” clean ups. Trash is still dumped alongside riverbanks, we still drive our cars when it may possible to walk or take public transportation and millions of plastic bags continue to blow in the breeze from tree branches while plastic and other debris can be found floating in Atlantic Coastal waters, materials that could have been recycled.
I am just as guilty as anyone. Last year when Earth Day rolled around, I realized that although I participate in Earth Day clean ups and do my best to recycle my newspapers and plastic bottles, I still forget to bring reusable bags with me when shopping, continue to buy bottled water and often neglect to pick up trash that I encounter along the way while walking from point A to point B.
Over the last few months, I have made a conscious effort to keep reusable bags in my car or in my knapsack to take with me when I shop and reduce the need for plastic or paper bags. And thanks to a new community effort to reduce food waste, I am now bringing my food waste to the local farmer’s market for composting. I love separating out the egg shells and coffee grounds and it’s a nice feeling to know that this one step helps to reduce the amount of trash that ends up in the local landfill.
So what steps do I plan to take this year on Earth Day. I will most likely volunteer at local Earth Day clean up event. I will continue to save my food waste and bring it to a local farmer’s market. I will use public transportation as much as possible and continue to walk where and when possible. As an environmental educator on the Blackstone River, I hope to continue to instill this same sense of stewardship for the earth. Most importantly, although Earth Day is one day or week out of the year, I will remember the efforts and advocacy to protect the earth is an ongoing effort to live sustainably in balance with the environment.
In summary, here are the steps I plan to take outlined below and hopefully others may be able to follow:
1. Remember Earth Day is every day
2. Reduce, reuse, recycle
3. Compost or if you don’t have the space to compost, locate a community program or local farm to accept your food waste
4. Use public transportation, walk or bike when you can
5. Remember to take reusable shopping bags with me when shopping
6. Use the many refillable cups, bottles and mugs instead of Styrofoam cups, plastic cups, and plastic water bottles.
7. Promote environmental education and environmental literacy.