Making a positive environmental impact, one person at a time
Written by Andrea Himoff, Executive Director of Action Utah
As major nature lover, I can’t help but get excited about Earth Day each year and the chance to share my passion about something I love dearly with others. Why? Because even small actions individuals take to become just a little more environmentally aware and protective can make a big difference on human health, the environment and environmental policy. Last year I created the blog, Everyday Earthiness, to help ordinary people learn small things they can do in their everyday lives to make a positive impact on the environment. This year I’ll take this opportunity to share with you several ideas for how you can put your own stewardship to work for Earth Day.
What is Earth Day?
Earth Day (April 22) is an international celebration that commemorates the birth of the environmental movement in 1970 when 20 million Americans took to the streets to protest environmental deterioration and to spur the bipartisan effort that produced the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, the founder of Earth Day, wisely realized that it would take the energy and environmental consciousness of the masses to force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. He formed a staff and promoted events around the country to raise awareness and encourage people (and particularly students) to speak out in the name of protecting the Earth.
Earth Day continues to act as an important catalyst to raise awareness and encourage people around the world to speak out for environmental protection, whether on the global or national level or at home in their own communities, schools and households. Today more than 1 billion people in 196 countries participate in official Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
10 ways to celebrate Earth Day on April 22
- Get outside and enjoy nature. Studies and research across the globe agrees — nature is good for you! Check out this blog post I wrote for Earth Day last year, “Nature Makes Us Happy (and 12 Other Scientifically Proven Benefits of Nature On Our Health and Wellbeing)” to find out all the amazing ways nature can help YOU. Now… don’t you want to help it back?
- Divest from fossil fuel investments. It’s not hard to make your investment portfolio carbon free. Check out DivestInvest.org to join the movement and transfer your personal, pension, retirement, business or institutional investments away from fossil fuels and toward renewables. Over $3 trillion has been divested from fossil fuels so far by individuals like Leonardo DiCaprio and Desmond Tutu, corporations like Amalgamated Bank and institutions like the University of Utah.
- Make the switch to renewable energy. You don’t have to install rooftop solar on your property (though that would be one of the best things you can do, so if you’re into it PLEASE DO install rooftop solar!). But if installing solar isn’t in the cards for you this year, consider switching to renewables on your energy bill. Rocky Mountain Power offers an option to buy Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) on your behalf for a small fee per watt through their Blue Sky Program. Keep in mind that this does NOT mean RMP will create more renewable energy in Utah, they’ll just pay someone somewhere else to produce renewable energy to add to the grid. Arcadia Power is my personal favorite choice for buying RECs. Switching to Arcadia is simple takes about two minutes.
- Crowdfund for climate action through Cool Effect. Cool Effect is a crowd funding source for the world’s best carbon-reducing projects in the world. Their team of climate scientists scours the globe to find great projects that have had a proven impact in reducing carbon emissions, and offer them up to you to help fund from the comfort of your home computer.
- Take the Earthiness Challenge. This one is really easy. Just read this collection of 30 Everyday Earthiness articles for ordinary people on how to become more environmentally friendly in your daily life, and share them with 5 friends. That means reading just one article a day for every day in April (“Earth Month”). And getting 5 other people to do the same thing. C’mon – you can do it!
- Do an “Earthy” deed. Plant a tree, start to recycle, or any other of these 10 ideas for good Earthy deeds you can do to celebrate Earth Day.
- Donate to a good environmental cause. Whether you prefer to donate to organizations who protect wildlife, oceans and rivers, land, climate or human health from toxins and pollution, there is a good environmental cause out there for everyone!
- Take a hike to raise money for the Earth through Team Sierra. Whether you take a walk through your neighborhood, a stroll through your local park, an urban hike in your city or rugged hike in the mountains, you can use Earth Day as an excuse to get outside, to enjoy the environment around you and to raise money and awareness about the importance of stewardship while you’re at it. Click here for details and to sign up.
- Get smart about your personal impact. Read these posts to find out what is a carbon footprint and how to reduce it. Or learn more about the state of energy production in America by reading about renewables and coal. Not interested in carbon emissions? Try reading up on garbage, recycling and ocean trash. We all make an impact, and being aware of it is the first step toward reducing it.
- Love the Leuser. Say what? As one of the largest intact forests in Southeast Asia, the Leuser Ecosystem is vital for storing atmospheric carbon and preventing further global climate change. Help the #LoveTheLeuser social media campaign draw attention to the need for protecting this critical carbon sink. Not interested in Leuser? Pick any major rainforest to save from deforestation and development, such as critical carbon sinks in the Amazon.