"Forest near Vřesina" by Jiri Brozovsky is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Although April may seem like a dull month of fading motivation, there is one day that often goes unnoticed: Earth Day. It seems like Earth day just comes and goes, but it really is more than that. According to the official website, the first Earth Day was in 1970 and in the years leading up to it, Americans were consuming large amounts of leaded gas through their automobiles. Air pollution was called “the smell of prosperity” and Americans carried on with their lives unaware of how environmental issues affected human health.
When Senator Gaylord Nelson, from Wisconsin, witnessed an oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, he was inspired by student anti-war protests to organize college teach-ins. By the end of 1970, the U.S. created the Environmental Protection Agency and passed some of their first environmental laws including the National Environment Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act. Two years later, congress passed the Clean Water Act and one year later, the Endangered Species Act.
Why is any of this important? Well, according to the official website, April 22 was chosen because it fell between spring break and final exams to guarantee there would be student participation, so participate!
Donate to The Canopy Project
The Canopy Project is dedicated to reforestation across the globe. Partnered with Earthday.org, the organization works with global partners in areas that are at risk from climate change and environmental degradation. Mercy girls can visit earthday.org to donate $1 and view their reforestation map to see where trees are being planted. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, 18 million acres of forest are lost every year. According to Earthday.org, Trees purify the air we breathe, provide habitats for animals, and regulate temperatures. By helping to reforest an area affected by climate change, land can be stabilized, soil health improved, and economic development promoted.
Support Great Global Cleanup
Clean up litter whenever you have the time. You could even invite friends and family to join you. It seems tedious and not very appealing, but if you don’t like seeing trash everywhere, why not make a day of cleaning it up? You can reduce the amount of pollution in your area and go outside, which is important after spending so much time in quarantine. According to goingzerowaste.com, reducing litter protects animals in your area who may confuse trash for food and little kids from picking up harmful materials and it can reduce costs of litter cleanup shared by governments and local businesses.
Participate in meatless Mondays and try some plant-based recipes.
Aside from reducing your carbon footprint, avoiding meat for one day, or more, according to Patient First, it also has numerous health benefits. It encourages you to increase the amount of fruits, veggies, and whole grain in your diet, reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. You can find some recipes for beginners here. Try them with your family or do a Zoom call with friends and cook with them.
Reduce the amount of single-use plastic in your life.
Use reusable grocery bags, water bottles, and Tupperware instead of plastic. This is the easiest, and frankly, the trendiest, way to be more sustainable. We already do things like use reusable water bottles, bags, or buy metal straws, but it’s more than just a trend. Since plastics don’t really break down, they heat up and shrink into smaller pieces known as micro plastics. Courtney Lindwall for NRDC writes that, the plastics can pollute water, endanger animals, and can even end up in our own bodies because of fish that have accidentally consumed it. It can affect vulnerable communities and cause piles of plastic trash to build up both on land and water.
Make clothes last longer.
Instead of throwing away old clothes or buying new ones, you could learn to sew and mend them yourself, find a way to restyle old clothes, be particular of what to throw away or even try to give away clothes to someone else. NPR writer, Elise Hu quotes author Elizabeth Cline, as writing, “ultimately, any item of clothing that you get rid of is going to end up in the landfill because the technological solutions just aren’t at scale yet to do something different with it.” While donating is also a good option, unfortunately of the clothes donated, only a fraction gets resold and what isn’t sold is shipped and sold internationally. According to an article by Elise Hu for NPR, The fashion industry consumes 79 trillion liters of water and then causes 92 million tons of waste and factory workers are often working long hours in unsafe conditions.
Join the Environmental Awareness Club here at Mercy and learn about current environmental issues.
The club is devoted to the care of our planet, enhancement of environmental qualities at school and the education of students in living a healthier, more environmentally friendly manner. Meetings are held once a month after school.
You don’t have to save the world, but you can do little things to make it a better place to live. This April 22, choose one change you’d like to make. Old habits are difficult to break, but with practice, you might be able to keep up your efforts year-round.