Earth Day was first created and celebrated in 1970 with participants from colleges and universities, primary and secondary schools and communities across the US. It is a day for ecological and environmental awareness. U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) decided that the week of April 19-25, 1970 would be the perfect time for the first Earth Day. He ultimately chose April 22 as it was the day after John Muir’s birthday. John Muir was a noted conservationist who is responsible for the preservation of Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park, and other wilderness areas.
This year’s Earth Day has the theme of Trees for Earth, according to the Earth Day Network (.www.earthday.org). With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day approaches, the Earth Day organizer want to achieve 5 goals before 2020, one for each year. The goal this year is to plant 7.8 billion trees. Trees are very helpful to the Earth. Trees help combat climate change by absorbing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In one year, one acre of mature trees can absorb the carbon dioxide produced by a car driving 26,000 miles. Trees also helps us breath clean air. Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (such nitrogen, oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark. You can get involved by planting a tree this year or helping your local community plant trees.
Everyone is familiar with the activities we can do on a daily basis which helps the environment. They are known as the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Reducing the amount of waste that is created by choosing what is to be trashed or what can be reused or recycled. One way to reduce trash is to buy products for more than one job like multi-purpose cleaners. Buy products with very little package and sell or donate unwanted items. Reuse items which can be used for more than once. For instance, jars and pots. While glass can be recycled, leftover jars from jellies, pasta sauce can be used for transformed into candles, etc. Old clothes can be made into blankets. The internet is filled with wonderful ideas which you can take an old item and make it new. The last R is recycle which most people are the most familiar with. The main three materials which can be recycled are plastic, glass, and aluminum. But did you know that other items can be and should be recycled. Batteries, old electric equipment, old engine oil, furniture/building materials. If you change your own oil, check with local auto part shops or mechanics ships for opportunities to turn in old oil for recycling. Even the bottles that the oil came in can be recycled.
As important as the 3 R’s are, conservation is very important. As a native of Southern California, water is a precious commodity that many do not realize that is not native to the region. Most of the water which serves the area comes from somewhere else. For instance, the Los Angeles area is state water aqueducts and the Colorado River among others. With the current drought and the threat of future droughts, water conservation should be a part of life for us. There are a number of ways to conserve water. Home owners can choose plants that require do not require a lot of water or frequent watering. For instance, for Californians, drought tolerant plants like cactus and other succulents are a great choice. Check with your local communities for ideas to conserve this precious resource.