Earth Day Approaches 50 Years of Awareness
Happy 50th Anniversary, Earth Day! Even though many of our activities have been curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to celebrate the upcoming Earth Day with the enthusiasm it deserves. Like many of us have already experienced, occasions that would have otherwise been celebrated with our friends, family, and community, are now constrained to being indoors with only our housemates.
But all is not lost!
While it has been disappointing to refrain from going out to commemorate another year around the sun or even doing fun activities with friends and family on the weekends, people have been creating new, safe ways to keep the spirit of celebration and community alive. We’ve seen car-parades passing by a child’s home in lieu of a birthday party, families visiting grandparents through their outdoor windows, and more frequent video-calls with coworkers, friends, and families alike.
Just the same, it has been frustrating for many to see all their hard work of organizing Earth Day events not come to fruition as originally planned. Some creative thinking and innovation have allowed many Earth Day events to still be held on April 22nd through a virtual format. EarthRise, the organization leading the charge on this 50th celebration, is hosting a 24-hours of Action campaign in which every hour, on the hour, they will offer a new and powerful action item on their website and social media for people to do to drive change. They are also hosting Earth Day Live, a three-day long event from April 22 through 24 where participants will participate in a livestream featuring stories, performances and opportunities for digital collective action.
National Geographic is also moving on-line to celebrate Earth Day. Read about their Alternate Reality experience showing how the world will feel in 2070 here. Another way to remotely show the earth some love is through WEHERO. They are offering a remote volunteer opportunity for planting trees as well as a way to donate to charities just by browsing the internet!
In addition to being the 50th one, this Earth Day will be the first ever to be celebrated digitally — a chance to be a part of history! Jump right in!
Traditional Earth Day events, such as trash clean ups, festivals, and educational events, have been postponed to later dates. Old Bakery Beer Company in Alton, IL has postponed their 9th annual Riverbend Earth Day Festival, historically a day full of environmental education, hands-on informational booths, nature-inspired crafts, and an artisan's market. Santa Barbara, CA’s annual Earth Day Festival has been postponed until July when they will celebrate, educate and inspire. DuCard Vineyards in Virginia, also delaying their event, that offers a full day of informative presentations, booths, and networking to educate and appreciate our beautiful planet.
But this is not necessarily a bad thing! There is a silver lining to moving these events to dates throughout the year. Oftentimes, our excitement and motivation inspired by large events such as Earth Day is very strong directly before and after the event itself, yet quickly fizzles out. Perhaps dispersing these sustainability events will foster a continuous motivation for actively caring about our Earth that lasts throughout the year. Perhaps this continuous motivation becomes a habit and, better yet, a cultural norm. This time in physical isolation may allow us to take a step back from our current systems and structures and give us the time and space we need to consider making a few adjustments.
With technology being what it is, companies may consider allowing employees to work remotely more often. Only coming to the office for a few meetings a week could certainly cut down on transportation costs and carbon emissions. There are many considerations that this new-normal has brought up. Such as, more frequently disinfecting commonly touched areas, etc. This tragic pandemic may offer us some new perspectives.
So, on April 22nd, embrace the earth and the great outdoors! Go outside for a hike. Pick up a bit a trash you may see along the way. Take time, as they say, to smell the roses! Our world is pretty spectacular, so let’s take the time to appreciate all that we have. Then, look up what Earth Day events that have been postponed in your area. Make an effort to attend Earth Day events throughout the year and support these businesses and organizations to get back on their feet once they are up and running again.
Heather Nortz is the Sustainability Programs Coordinator for PRINTING United Alliance. Her primary responsibilities consist of running both the Sustainable Business Recognition and Safety Recognition Award Programs. She also contributes to industry specific research on matters of sustainability trends and environmental safety and health regulations. She regularly publishes articles and blog posts on these topics and consistently updates the PRINTING United Alliance website with advocacy related content. Nortz recently graduated from George Mason University with her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and a concentration in Human and Ecosystems Response to Climate Change.