Thoughtful Thursdays: Let's Make Everyday 'Earth Day'

by Laura Bankey, Director of Conservation

Published April 18, 2013

Every year since 1970, people around the world have come together on April 22 to celebrate the Earth. Considered the largest civic observance in the world, Earth Day is celebrated by restoring habitats and teaching others about conserving our planet’s natural resources and wildlife.

In recent years, the celebration of our planet has been extended by many to “Earth Week” and even “Earth Month.” I applaud those efforts to extend this day of recognition, however, they beg the question, when will we finally reach the time when every day is “Earth Day?”

With serious threats like climate change, ocean acidification and pollution having an increasingly negative impact on our ecosystems, one day a year to talk about the Earth simply isn’t enough. To make a real difference in the environment, we need to all adopt new behaviors in our daily lives – whether it’s in what we’re buying or what we’re throwing away – that can make an actual impact over time.

Since our inception, the National Aquarium has made a concerted effort to celebrate and preserve the Earth and its diverse ecosystems every day of the year. Whether it’s through engaging with the millions of people who visit our venues annually or through plantings and cleanups out in the field, our staff and volunteers are striving to change collective attitudes and behaviors that have harmed our planet for centuries. We celebrate Earth Day because it’s an opportunity to speak to folks about changing behaviors for the benefit of the planet and its people, but our goal is to minimize our impact on our natural world – and that happens 365 days a year.

This year, I’m asking you to join me in restoring and protecting our natural environment. There are a variety of actions you can take to minimize our individual and collective negative impacts. It’s can be as easy as:

Sticking to these principles (in this order);
  1. Refuse –say NO THANKS to straws and lids when possible (we pick up thousands of these in our clean up events)
  2. Reduce –carpool, take public transportation or bike or walk to work one day a week – a major source of pollution is emissions from our gas-powered vehicles
  3. Reuse –get a reusable water bottle or shopping bag and USE it
  4. Recycle –almost every local jurisdiction has a recycling program.  Make sure you are up-to-date on what your county/city can recycle.  The list has expanded tremendously over the past couple of years and close to 50-75% of our waste stream can be diverted from our landfills if we take advantage of the systems that are already in place
Buying local Making the environment part of your purchasing considerations.  This includes small every day purchases and larger decisions such as appliances, lawn mowers and vehicles. Conserving water Joining us for any/all of our conservation events throughout the year Join your local environmental organization for volunteer opportunities in your area Even better, starting a conservation initiative of your own and engage your surrounding community!

I’ll be celebrating Earth Day along with everyone else this year, and I hope you do, too. From that day forward, let’s fight together to make our planet a cleaner, healthier place for all of us to share. 

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