Every year, over 500 million people in 174 countries celebrate Earth Day, one of the largest secular holidays in the world. Earth Day is a great reminder for everyone otherwise just going about their daily lives that we should all be doing more to protect ecosystems, fight climate change and live greener lifestyles.
It began in the US after millions of people took to the streets on April 22, 1970 to protest the negative impacts of industrial development on the environment.
According to Earth Day Network (EDN), the nonprofit that has been organising and overseeing Earth Day every year since its inception in 1970, this year’s focus is on species protection.
The group reports we’re losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate. “Many species will disappear before we learn about them or the benefits they bring to our ecosystems and our planet,” says EDN. “The loss is so great that the welfare and future of the human species are threatened.”
EDN is using the platform of Earth Day to raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of countless numbers of species and why this speed-up is happening now.
They hope to activate a global movement that values nature in and of itself, and to encourage individual actions that help fight climate change, one of the most serious threats not only to humans but also animal and plant species.
The group has also enlisted the help of thousands of partner organisations around the world to advance and protect laws, policies, regulations and international agreements to prevent species loss and preserve as much biodiversity on the planet as possible.
Over the years, EDN had a huge impact, resulting in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and strong environmental laws in the US such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
In the US, EDN is focusing on saving the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act from the deregulatory sword of the Trump administration.
“The good news is that the rate of extinctions can still be slowed, and many of our declining, threatened and endangered species can still recover if we work together now to build a united global movement of consumers, voters, educators, faith leaders and scientists to demand immediate action,” says EDN president Kathleen Rogers.
Now Earth Day is a global event, with more than a billion people taking part in marches, petitions and clean-ups to protect the environment.
Protect Our Species
The theme for Earth Day 2019 is to ‘Protect Our Species.’ It has been created in response to the destruction of plant and wildlife populations by human activity such as climate change, deforestation, poaching and pollution.
To slow and stop the extinction of rare species, EDN is encouraging their supporters to raise awareness of the problem, and take individual actions such as adopting a plant-based diet and stop using pesticide and herbicide use.
In 2018 a multi-year campaign was created to end plastic pollution worldwide. The network is still focussed on this goal.
Meanwhile, plastic is still a major global problem and everyone is encouraged to go plastic-free this Earth Day.
Here are some ideas on how to celebrate World Earth Day:
- Prevent the creation of microplastics by being careful not to throw plastic products in waterways, beaches or open spaces.
- Pick up trash – especially plastics – whenever you see it, in ponds, streams, rivers, beaches, when possible.
- Participate in organised clean-up activities as much as you can.
- Look up products on the Internet and choose not to buy products containing microbeads. Choose products that have natural exfoliators instead.
- Consider changing the way you wash your clothing to reduce the number of microfibers that are released. There are also bags and other devices you can use in your washing machine to collect the fibres.
- Consider purchasing items made of natural fibres, when possible.
- Do not wash off lint from your dryer down the drain. Dispose of it on the trash.