Photographed by Angelo Nico Daroy
Some may say that environmentalism and “going green” are considered today’s fleeting trends. Others even argue that so-called “eco-fads” are aggravating environmental problems instead of alleviating them. Even so, whether one is an eco-supporter or an eco-skeptic, one thing is sure, today is Earth Day. April 22 is the biggest environmental celebration, with more than 175 countries and over a billion people participating worldwide. Earth Day is intended to inspire consciousness and appreciation for Mother Earth.
The observance of Earth Day started from the interest in gathering national support for environmental issues. In 1970, a San Franciscan activist John McConnell and the Wisconsinite Senator Gaylord Nelson separately asked Americans to join in a grassroots demonstration. Both proposed separate dates, with McConnell choosing the spring equinox on March 21 and Nelson, on April 22. Though this first Earth Day was focused only in the United States, Dennis Hayes launched an organization on the same year that transformed the celebration into an international phenomenon. Hayes’s organization arranged the celebration of Earth Day in 141 nations in 1990.
Earth Day is now organized worldwide by the Earth Day Network. For almost 40 years, the purpose of Earth Day remains constant: to encourage social and political action by drawing attention to the cause. The damaged state of the environment is given high regard. A million people every year take the opportunity to become part of a revolutionary change even for only a day. If we are one of these folks who have the heart for Earth, we might be wondering about what the things we can do for a few minutes, for an hour or for a genuine lifetime are.
Let us exercise the right to exercise. We are too lazy to walk a meter or a kilometer when we travel to nearby places. We are then tempted to ride cars and other forms of transportation that cause air pollution. A short walk is not a big polluter. For example, if a neighbor consumes about a single gallon (3.7 liters) of gas every day for a round trip, he already sends 19 pounds (8.6 kilograms) of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the air. That is twice as much as running central air conditioning, which is one of the biggest household polluters. Cutting off 19 pounds of greenhouse gas is not a small thing for Earth Day.
If we consider the amount of water shortages around the world, we would be surprised about the quantity of water we use to make ourselves squeaky clean. A daily shower is not a matter of health but a matter of comfort. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a 10-minute shower consumes about 50 gallons (189 liters) of water. That is how much we consume if we take a bath every day. Fortunately, if we do not wash ourselves, we get some paybacks that most of us are not aware of. Water washes away the natural oils on our skin and hair that gives us a healthy glow. Another is that the microorganisms that give us immunity from diseases are being taken away with every bath. Therefore, why don’t we start saving up 70 gallons of water? A day for us to get dirty saves not only Mother Earth, but ourselves as well.
With online resources, we basically live in a modern age where anything can be fast and easy. We pay and send letters through electronic mail that minimizes our need for paper and deforestation. Reducing the use of paper saves not only time but also trees. This half-hour Earth Day involvement will generally last for years. After all, this is the gift that keeps on giving.
We all want to be part of the action, so why don’t we take part in its entirety? Let us get involved in Earth Day activities and be with individuals who share a common task. A lot of nongovernment organizations are actively encouraging the youth for river clean-ups and tree planting activities. Additionally, if we feel ourselves less as a worker, why don’t we try to enrich ourselves about Earth and visit some local science museums? The more we know, the more we can appreciate the world we live in.
One of the elementary things we can always do is planting. Planting trees, bushes and any other plant life not only beautifies our homes; plants also absorb some of the CO2 from the air. Planting too can go a long way. Trees prevent soil erosion and consequently, landslides, considering how vulnerable our soils have been from the past storms that ravaged the country. Moreover, the prevalent destruction of some of our rainforests is one of the reasons why global warming is getting out of control. Planting something in our yards can offset this gradual destruction.
We feed on electricity like hungry sunflowers hogging on sunlight. We use electricity for small things, greedily consuming it to a point of wastage. We do not want to live in the dark, but if living this way means that we are saving Mother Earth, then why not? However, if doing so is a dreadful idea for some of us, we have alternatives at hand. Switching from energy-hogging incandescent light bulbs to energy-saving fluorescent lamps is a must-do for the next years to come. Many government institutions are phasing out the former. Slowly replacing the light bulbs in our houses does not take too long and it saves our money, considering that fluorescent lamps are more efficient than their counterparts. This Earth Day activity recompenses in the long run, saving both cost and energy.
Let us reduce, reuse and recycle the things that need to be. We were taught this adage when we were younger. Let us not forget that we should not do this solely on Earth day, but in every day of our lives.
It is an already great feat that we can do something for our environment for just one day, but it would be a much greater achievement if we continue the Earth Day’s advocacy for the days to come. Thus today, let us touch the soil, smell the fragrance of flowers, feel the air, and embrace Earth and its beauty. Let us love our planet by doing our share.