Today, April 22, 2018, is Earth Day! Earth Day is a day dedicated to caring for, preserving, and cleaning up our world. As of recently, approximately 1 billion people participate in Earth Day events worldwide.
Gaylord Nelson started Earth Day in 1970. Nelson was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin at the time and after the 1969 oil spill in California, he became inspired to help the environment. After building a small team and bringing different groups together for a common idea, he used the media to get the word out of a planned nationwide rally to support positive environmental change.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
On Earth Day, people march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees, clean up their towns and roads, but those are just a few things that happen. Each year, Earth Day focuses on a different cause. This year the campaign is to End Plastic Pollution.
In the past 10 years, humans have produced more plastic than during the last century. 50 percent of the plastic we use is used just once then thrown away. The average American throws away about 185 pounds of plastic each year. It takes anywhere from 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade leaving about one million seabirds and marine life dead each year. It has also been found that almost half of all seabird species and all sea turtle species have been documented with plastic in and around their bodies.
Plastic pollution not only poisons and injures marine life, it can disrupt human hormones and clog up our waste streams and landfills. With more and more plastic being produced and trashed each year, it is becoming a big issue for the health of all plant and animal species on the planet.
For more information about Earth Day and the End Plastic Pollution campaign, visit EarthDay.org.
Our community can make the change locally by being sure to not litter and reducing personal waste.