Happy Earth Day! In my house, this is one of the special days that is recognized and celebrated each year.
Today is the 42nd annual official Earth Day, which is held on April 22 every year. Around the world, we have a renewed interest in Earth Day because of our present concerns over global warming, food safety and accessibility issues, reducing our carbon footprint, the economy, and a host of other environmentally-related issues.
We wonder if what we read is true, and if so, what can we do – what can one person do – to make a real and positive impact on the earth.
The late Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin began “Earth Day thinking” in 1962.
Nelson spoke with national leaders of the time, including President Kennedy, about showcasing and focusing on environmental issues, which then were not being addressed in the political realm. After his discussions a brief tour was held, some recognition was given to the issues but little real effort was made.
Nelson then thought that a nationwide demonstration in the spring of 1970 would be a way to get the attention of the political leaders. He announced the plans for this first national environmental recognition day at a conference in the fall of 1969. The media picked up his message and Nelson’s office was flooded with contacts from citizens across the country wanting to express their concerns about environmental issues and know how they could take action.
College students took up the cause and the environmental movement was born. Three months before the first official Earth Day, a national office in Washington, D.C. was established, giving credibility to the cause. “Teach-ins” and demonstrations were held across the nation on April 22, 1970.
Nelson later said, “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.”
To recognize Nelson’s efforts, President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995 on the 25th anniversary of that first Earth Day.
Little things help
There are many small actions that individuals or households can take that will make a difference to the environment.
Recycling paper, cardboard, cans, glass, plastic and other materials designated by our city and county recycling centers is an easy thing to do. You can reduce yard waste by not bagging lawn clippings when mowing and starting a compost pile.
Here is a list of simple, easy, everyday things anyone can do at their home, office, school, place of worship, or business: use compact florescent light bulbs; turn off the water faucet whenever possible during normal household tasks that use water; turn off lights and other power sources when possible; purchase Energy Star appliances; turn your thermostat down (or up for air conditioning); use the “no receipt” option at the gas pump or store if available; use cloth bags when shopping; use soaker hoses and hoses with shut-off nozzles when watering outdoor plants; receive and pay bills on-line; subscribe to magazines and newsletters by email and on-line and a myriad of other small things you can think of once you get into the habit!
For more information on Earth Day or suggestions for activities and environmental tips, log on to the US Environmental Protection Agency at http://www.epa.gov/earthday/;or Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Energy & Environment Cabinet, http://eec.ky.gov/Pages/earthday.aspx; or UK Extension, See Blue-Go Green pages, http://www.ca.uky.edu/gogreen/index.php.
So celebrate Earth Day with me today!
Visit one of our local Frankfort City or Franklin County parks, Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary, or Salato. Take a walk in your neighborhood. Plant a tree, shrub or wildflower. Take a picnic meal outside. Visit a farm. Pick up trash along a stream or roadside. Recycle. Ride a bike. Check your plumbing for leaks and fix them. Eat a meal of locally grown and produced foods.
I will be celebrating with the Earth, will you?
For additional information on natural and environmental issues or printed resources, contact the Franklin County Extension Office by phone, 695-9035 or email DL_CES_Franklin@Email.Edu.UKy.