Celebrating Earth Day
By Way Yu
When was the last time you stopped and smelled the roses?
Canít remember? April 22nd is the perfect day to do just that.
April 22, otherwise known as Earth Day, has been nationally
recognized as a day to celebrate and save the planet. Events
and activities are planned to make people aware that the
environment has been suffering from harmful effects created by man.
Pollution of the air and water, destruction of rain forests and
parks, and the extinction of some species are just a few of
those problems. Itís more important than ever to fix, save
and protect what we can if we want to continue to enjoy nature.
Earth Day began back in 1970, when Wisconsinís then-Senator
Gaylord Nelson proposed the first nationwide environmental protest.
Its aim was to "shake up the political establishment and force this
issue onto the national agenda." Led by David Hayes, Nelsonís
coordinator, more than 20 million people joined in the peaceful,
organized protest. People from all walks of life--rich, poor, doctors,
lawyers, teachers, children and more--came together to call the worldís
attention to environmental issues. It was a resounding success,
culminating in the creation of the United States Environmental
Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water,
and Endangered Species acts.
In 1990, Earth Day became global. Now, over 200 million people from
141 countries join in yearly to renew the fight to save our earth.
Though itís moved from a grassroots campaign to one organized by
professionally-established environmental organizations, everyone is
encouraged to pitch in. Donít be surprised if you go to the grocery
store and see paper bags emblazoned with "Save the Earth" logos--thatís
the work of children involved in the Earth Day Groceries Project.
What can you do to celebrate this day?
Join or Volunteer at a Local Event. Plenty of activities are
held during the month of April to raise awareness. Most communities
plan extra festivals and events on the week of, and weekends before
and after Earth Day. In Maryland, 500 Atlantic White Cedar trees will
be planted to create the largest AWC forest in the Western Hemisphere.
A street fair in North Carolina will be generated in part by water
and solar energy. Check out ads and listings in your local newspaper,
or go to www.earthday.net to see whatís going on in your area.
Discover Nature. The best way to see Mother Natureís glory
is to head to the nearest beach or national park. Take a hike, or
go camping under the stars. Youíll remember what the fuss of
Earth Day is all about.
Recycle. Round up all of your empty soda cans and drop them off
at your local recycling center (most are located in large supermarket
parking lots). Not only will you be cleaning up and doing a good deed
for the environment, you get paid for what you bring in to recycle!
Use your Green Thumb. Seeds are cheap and can be purchased at
your local supermarket, nursery, or even drugstore. Take your pick
(daisies or green beans?), put on some gardening gloves, and start
a garden in your backyard. Donít have a plot of dirt to plant your
seeds? Nurseries and select craft stores will have gardening pails
and troughs filled with soil, ready for indoor planting. You can place
it on your windowsill or just a sunny area of your room.
Walk or Bike instead of Drive. Leave that car at home--cars
emit harmful gases that destroy the ozone layer and add to air
pollution. Try rollerblading, riding a scooter, or biking to your
class or office. Depending on where you live, thatís easier said than
done. This is a no-brainer for those in Manhattan, but what if you
live in Los Angeles, where driving is a way of life? If you canít get
to your destination by bike or by foot, try another form of
transportation: subway, bus, or even carpooling.
Save Energy. Even if you donít live in California, Earth Day
is a terrific opportunity to brush up on your energy conservation
skills. Switch off the television when youíre not in the room. Wash
the dishes by hand instead of running the dishwasher. Hereís a biggie:
shutdown your computer at night. And finally, turn off the lights
when youíre not in the room. If it gets too dark, light candles. Not
only are you saving energy, but the glow from the candles will give
your room a more romantic feel too.
Get Political. As a beachgoer, the pollution of the oceans may
be your biggest concern. Or you may find logging inexcusable because
it kills trees and threatens animal life. Write a letter to
Washington D.C. about the need to pass laws to save the planet.
Address those issues you feel most strongly about, and let your voice
be heard. After all, you and your descendants will be the ones inheriting