In this time of global health concern we are all spending more time at home and likely thinking more about how our environment (natural and built) impacts our daily lives. This Wednesday, April 22nd, is the 50th Earth Day.
The first Earth Day, celebrated in 1970, was organized to raise awareness about oil spills, air and water pollution, toxic dumps, and loss of wildlife and wilderness. That first Earth Day contributed to the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and legislation such as the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act. The first Earth Day was much more politically-driven than those in recent years. Most years groups around the United States organize community tree plantings, recycling events, and environmental awareness activities.
This year, most of us will celebrate Earth Day at home. Here are some simple things we all can do to be more eco-friendly every day, and raise our spirits in a time of uncertainty.
- Plant a garden – Maybe this is your year to plant a garden, growing some of your own food to reduce your food miles. Try containers for small patios or yards. Include some flowers for a cutting garden. Another option is to join in a local farm’s community supported agriculture (CSA) program.
- Compost food scraps and yard waste.
- Follow the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle):
- Reduce – Avoid using single-use, disposable items like paper plates, cups, napkins, and utensils. This is much easier while we eat most meals at home, but try to create a new habit to avoid disposable items in the future. Also, avoid purchasing items with lots of packaging, which is usually wasted.
- Reuse – Find new uses for household items (upcycle) or share them with a friend – avoid sending things to the landfill as much as possible.
- Recycle – If you can’t reuse it or compost it, look for opportunities to recycle in your area. (Learn more about Oldham County Recycling.)
Written by Amanda Gumbert, UK Extension Water Quality Specialist, and edited by Lauren Fernandez, Oldham County Extension Program Assistant.