While not a holiday in the traditional sense with shuttered financial institutions and paid time off for public employees, Earth Day should serve as an occasion for people of every stripe to reflect on ways they can help improve the environment. The now-familiar expression, “Think Globally, Act Locally,” is a good place to start.
How much energy are you consuming in your home, business or for transportation? Are you recycling and taking all steps possible to reduce the amount of solid waste your household generates? If possible, do you compost organic materials and save water at every opportunity? Do you prefer to use locally sourced food? Have you taken action to reduce your family’s carbon footprint?
While much has improved since the first Earth Day in 1970, more than 45 years ago, much remains to be done. Since that first Earth Day, the world’s population has doubled and is estimated to reach 7.4 billion in June.
There is no way we all can live without limits on this one, small, fragile planet.
Fortunately, since the first Earth Day, the public’s mindset has shifted from denying there is a problem to arguing over the best way to fix things. Big polluters, such as industries belching black smoke or discharging steaming green water into rivers and estuaries, have been easy to target for change. The challenge now is to educate people about personal changes they can make. The biggest threat from individuals comes from small and seemingly inconsequential negative behaviors that happen billions of times every day all over the world. Imposing stricter laws and additional regulations won’t get the job done. Only by changing hearts and minds will the real promise of Earth Day be realized.