By May “Mosaic” Advincula, Editor-in-chief

First inspired by anti-Vietnam “teach-ins” that were held on U.S. college campuses, Earth Day offers to bring awareness and appreciation for the natural environment. The first Earth Day was celebrated in the U.S. on April 22, 1970 and initiated by efforts by Senator Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat from Wisconsin, who, according to History.com, was “determined to wake up the federal government to the fact that the earth was at risk.”

At the time, environmental issues were not a part of the U.S. political agenda. In addition, activists were more concentrated on traditional green agendas such as conservation and the protection of wilderness and animals rather than urban concerns such as industrial pollution that was increasingly becoming more common with the advent of increased mobilization due to car production. Nelson envisioned Earth Day as a large scale operation that would force the issue onto the national agenda.

Through grassroots efforts organized by Nelson and national coordinator Dennis Hayes, groups of Americans rallied together to bring the once underlying green issues to the public spotlight. It was reported that 80percent of issues presented at rallies across the nation addressed urban affairs. Nelson stated, “Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.”

Since then, Earth Day awareness has continued to grow. In 1990, Earth Day celebrations went international and currently Earth Day activities have been organized with the help of non-profit organization Earth Day Network (EDN). This year, EDN’s theme for Earth Day is “A Billion Acts of Green.”

Individuals who visit the Billion Acts of Green site (act.earthday.org/) have the opportunity to take action through online pledges and petitions. Activities can range from pledging to grow your own garden to organizing an Earth Day event in your community.

Oftentimes we do not have a second thought of how our everyday actions affect the environment in the long term. However, there are ways that you can modify your everyday routine that can help to take care of the environment.

Recycle. Instead of throwing away your plastic, make an effort to recycle them. If you don’t have a recycle pickup in your neighborhood, look up your local recycling centers. Sites like www.recyclingcenters.org/ can come in handy when trying to find a place to.

Instead of paper or plastic use reusable bags: To reduce waste and the possibility of your paper or plastic piling up in a landfill, utilize reusable bags.

Avoid long showers. You’d be surprised at how much water you consume each day. Find out your water footprint with this calculator.

Use alternative modes of transportation. Consider walking, riding a bike, or taking the train instead of driving. Though there is some regulation for car emissions, the fact is that there is still concern over the global warming effect attributed to growing levels of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Click here to calculate your carbon footprint.

Buy local produce or grow your own. Much of the food that we buy travels hundreds of miles to get to our shelves  and uses modes of transportation (i.e. trucks) which use gas that emits carbon dioxide into the air. Instead, consider shopping at your local farmer’s market or grow your own vegetables at home.

You may not think your individual efforts can help to save the environment, but with increase awareness, we can all work together to spread the word and preserve the world for future generations.

Sources:

http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2011

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_day

http://www.history.com/topics/earth-day

Photo credit:

http://sustainablelafayette.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/earthday2011hor1.png