“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” — Native American Proverb
Earth Day is an annual event created to celebrate the planet’s environment and raise public awareness about pollution. The day, marked on April 22, is observed worldwide with rallies, conferences, outdoor activities, and service projects. Earth Day is a time of the year to reflect on how your life impacts the planet. On this day, people think about new ways to reduce their carbon imprint and improve water quality. They get together to get their hands dirty and make earnest strides towards making the Earth a better, and healthier, place to live. Earth Day is an important day for people to take time out of their busy lives to consider the impact that humanity has on the environment and for taking steps to minimize these impacts. As a result, we all can live happier and healthier lives in tune with nature. While it would be nice if we all lived as if every day was Earth Day, this holiday serves as a friendly reminder each year, to respect the Earth and to show a little gratitude to Mother Nature.
Started as a grassroots movement, Earth Day created public support for the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and contributed to the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, and several other environmental laws. The idea for Earth Day was proposed by then-Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who died in 2005. The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970, a monumental day that is widely credited for launching the modern environmental movement. 20 million Americans from all walks of life participated in the very first Earth Day. Twenty years later, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage.
Earth Day is a time to reflect and be thankful for everything the Earth does for us. It is also a time to strengthen our relationship with nature, to give back, and to think of ways we can work to better support the Earth for future generations. This year the theme for Earth Day is Protect Our Species. Nature’s gifts to our planet are the millions of species that we know and love, and many more that remain to be discovered. Unfortunately, human beings have irrevocably upset the balance of nature and, as a result, the world is facing the greatest rate of extinction since we lost the dinosaurs more than 60 million years ago. But unlike the fate of the dinosaurs, the rapid extinction of species in our world today is the result of human activity.
This year, Earth day hits especially close to home for Fannin Tree Farm as it is focused on climate change. Trees curb climate change directly by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Through the process of photosynthesis, forests offset 10 to 20 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions each year. Additionally, trees help protect against climate impacts such as flooding, which is getting worse with more locally heavy precipitation. By catching rainwater, reducing erosion, and creating more permeable soils, trees help prevent nearly 400 billion gallons of runoff annually in the continental U.S., which is enough water to fill about 600,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Trees are equally crucial for water and air quality, as over half of Americans depend on forests to capture and filter their drinking water. Tree leaves also absorb airborne pollutants and intercept particulate matter, helping reduce the throat irritation, asthma, and even premature death that these pollutants may cause. By annually removing over 35 billion pounds of these pollutants in the continental U.S., trees prevent over half a million cases of acute respiratory symptoms each year.
Not surprisingly, areas with more trees provide more benefits, like in the Southeast and Pacific Northwest. However, some benefits are higher in urban areas, which often have higher air pollution and flood risks. Trees in urban areas can also reduce the urban heat island effect and lower air conditioning needs as much as 30 percent by providing a natural shade. Urban trees reduce U.S. energy bills by over $5 billion each year. And since lower energy consumption means fewer carbon dioxide emissions, planting trees can contribute to a healthier planet while improving our daily lives.
What can we do:
Here at Fannin we are always looking for ways to lighten our carbon footprint. We re-use all of our plastic container buckets for growing trees. We stopped buying plastic water bottles for our staff and gave everyone a Fannin Tree Farm bottle. We installed a water cooler that purifies the tap water. We eliminated 100’s of plastic bottles a month.
Earth Day Activities for Kids
Kids are a lot of fun on Earth Day: they have a natural instinct for conservation and preservation, they like to get their hands dirty, and they love any kind of celebration. Planning Earth Day activities for kids is easy; you should start by asking kids what they would want to do to help the Earth. This brainstorming session will help you decide what sorts of things you and your kids can do to help the Earth. Here are some suggestions:
- Plant a tree or a group of trees to beautify your neighborhood, provide shelter and food for birds, and prevent soil erosion. In honor of Earth Day and Arbor Day, you can pick up a tree to plant at your home for 40% off.
- Have a recycling party where friends and neighbors gather recyclable materials and turn them in for prizes
- Gather a group of kids and clean up garbage at a local park, beach, or other public area
I found this list that had some great ideas about other things we can do on Earth Day and every day to support a healthy earth. https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/different-ways-to-celebrate-earth-day.php