Earth Day Canada
On April 22, people worldwide mark Earth Day, an annual celebration of the environment and raises awareness about pollution.
Earth Day is so widely celebrated, it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always part of our lives. It actually originated in the United States as a grass roots event and only dates back to 1970.
A Brief History of the Origins of Earth Day
The late Gaylord Nelson, a United States senator from Wisconsin, had the inspiration for the event after he saw the damage done in 1969 by a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. He pictured a national teach-in that would educate the public about the environment and the importance of preserving it.
Nelson persuaded a U.S. congressman from California, Pete McCloskey, to co-chair Earth Day. Working with a staff of 85 people, they inspired 20 million Americans to take part in events, including discussions of ways to save the planet. Each year, the roster of events and the nationwide participation grew, until it expanded into a global celebration in 1990. By 2000, 184 countries were involved.
Canadian Earth Day Celebrations
In Canada, more than 6 million people mark the day each year with a variety of events, ranging from outdoor roadside cleanups to fundraising runs. (To find an event scheduled in your area, visit Canada Earth Day Events.)
We also have our own special campaign to remind us to reduce our carbon footprint, organized by Earth Day Canada, a national environmental charity. The organization has created an Earth flag and asks us to sign it as a pledge to reduce our own carbon footprints.
In 2015, the United Nations named the day Mother Earth Day. Ban-Ki Moon, the U.N. secretary general, said, “The big decisions that lie ahead are not just for the world leaders and policy makers. Today, on Mother Earth Day, I ask each one of us to be mindful of the impacts our choices have on this planet and what those impacts will mean for future generations.
Earth Day 2016 – Food Recovery and Waste
The theme for Earth Day 2016 is food recovery and waste. Reducing the amount of food that is wasted is important, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency explains:
- Wasted food is a social problem: Wholesome, nutritious food should feed people, not landfills.
- Wasted food is an environmental problem: Once wasted food reaches landfills, it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
- Wasted food is an economic issue: It is estimated that at the retail and consumer levels in the United States, food loss and waste totals $161 billion dollars.
How You Can Make A Difference
There are many ways that we, as individuals, can cut back on food waste:
- Check your cupboards and refrigerator before you go to the grocery store so you don’t buy products you already have.
- Make a shopping list and stick to it. Don’t be seduced by extra items.
- Plan your shopping list based on the meals you’ll be cooking for the week. If you’re going out to dinner one night, take that into account.
- Cook the items you have at home before shopping for more.
- Make one night each week a Love the Leftovers dinner to eat up the week’s bits and pieces.
- At restaurants, order only what you are able to finish. Take any leftovers home for your next meal.
Other Ways To Help
However, reducing food waste isn’t the only way to help the environment. There are a variety of simple steps each of us can take to care for our planet, as suggested by earthday.org:
- Cut back on your use of disposable plastic. Carry a lightweight, foldable cloth bag in your purse or briefcase to use whenever you run errands and bring reusable grocery bags along for a major food shopping outings.
- Recycle your electronic waste. Don’t consign your old computers and cellphones to the landfill when you can recycle them instead.
- Donate the clothing and toys your family no longer uses to an organization that will distribute or sell the items to support a good cause – or make their removal a fun family project by having a yard sale.
Staying Motivated Matters
It’s easy to get motivated to make a difference to our planet when we realize how quickly we’re depleting its wealth. The world’s population consumes the equivalent of 1.5 planets’ worth of resources annually and that is expected to climb to two planets’ worth by 2050. Mark April 22 on your calendar and celebrate Earth Day by committing to making a difference.