Today is a huge day for us here at Tamborasi. We decided we would officially “launch” Tamborasi out into the world on Earth Day after spending the last few months creating and fine-tuning the site. We had no idea until recently that not only is our launch day Earth Day, but it also happens to be Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary!
In the spirit of Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary, I wanted to share some facts about Earth Day along with a few ways you can celebrate Earth Day every day.
A Bit About Earth Day’s History
Earth Day was founded on April 22, 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson after he witnessed a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA in 1969 (Earthday.org). Nelson wanted a national day to educate the public about the environment and in turn help increase awareness and add environmental protection into the national political agenda.
On the first Earth Day, 20 million Americans “took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums in massive coast to coast rallies to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment.” This first Earth Day led to the creation of the EPA and the passages of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Since 1970, Earth Day has been growing ever since and is now widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world celebrated by over 1 billion people every year!
For a deeper dive into Earth Day’s history and for information on how you can get involved, be sure to check out Earth Day’s official site here.
5 Ways You Can Celebrate Earth Day
Since Earth Day is all about raising awareness for a cleaner planet, I wanted to share a few easy ways you can do your part and help contribute to positive change to our planet. Some of these might sound a little familiar, while some might surprise you.
Reduce Single Use Items
As we all know, single-use items are almost impossible to avoid in day to day life. They’re everywhere, from throw-away coffee cups (which aren’t recyclable!) to plastic bags, to the containers your food comes in. You may not think about it as it’s just so “normal,” but here are some numbers that show how much waste we’re actually producing.
Euromonitor International reported that in 2016, “More than 480 billion plastic bottles were sold worldwide. Nearly 2 million plastic bags are used per minute. Takeout orders make up around 269,000 tons of plastic waste that’s entered our oceans.” It’s crazy to imagine the impact of all of that single-use plastic building up year after year.
So how can you make a difference? It might feel impossible, but just making small changes like switching to reusable coffee cups, produce bags, and reusable bulk food containers/bags does help!
Our theme of Tamborasi is small changes add up to big impacts, so just take it one change at a time! We’ll be highlighting these small changes weekly on our website, so be sure to keep coming back for more ideas 🙂
Recycle (The Right Way)
We all know that recycling versus throwing things in the trash is crucial, but did you know many people are recycling incorrectly? Recycling can be super confusing, so while we have the best intentions, when done incorrectly, recyclables unfortunately end up in the landfill.
Here are a few quick tips to increase the chances of your recyclables actually getting recycled:
1. Make sure your recyclables are clean.
Items cannot be recycled if there is any food waste on them. If something is difficult to clean, you can pop it in the dishwasher with your dishes before you add it to your recyclables.
2. Don’t bag your recyclables in plastic bags.
These clog the machines and your whole load may be tossed out. Avoid putting any types of plastic bags in your bin for the same reason.
3. Don’t “wishcyle.”
This is unfortunately commonplace, where people hope that something non-recyclable is recyclable, throw it in and contaminate the rest of the load. This increases the risk of the whole recycling load ending up in a landfill. The best thing you can do to avoid this is to take a bit of time to research what you actually can recycle versus just guessing.
4. If you’re not sure, throw it away.
If you’re wondering if something is recyclable but aren’t sure, it’s recommended that you dispose of it in the trash to avoid contamination. The main items that can be recycled are clean cans, cardboard, plastic bottles, and paper, and glass containers (if glass is accepted in your town).
Be sure to look at your own municipality’s recycling guide (this can typically be found via a quick Google search), since what they accept and don’t accept may vary from town to town.
Buy Less Stuff
A huge impact you can make is to simply buy less stuff, unless it’s absolutely needed. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this (fill in the blank) or is it more of an impulse buy?”
If you do need something, buying clothes, furniture or home goods second-hand at thrift stores will not only save money but also lowers your carbon footprint from the creation and transportation of new manufactured goods.
According to research from Oxfam, buying one new cotton shirt produces the same amount of emissions as driving a car for 35 miles. Additionally, the carbon footprint of new clothes bought in the in the U.K. is as large as driving a car around the world 360 times. And that’s just the U.K. I can’t imagine what adding in the U.S. and other countries would add to those figures.
Along with going second-hand, being mindful about wearing your clothes for a longer lifespan is also a great way to lower your clothing carbon footprint.
While volunteering in person right at this moment isn’t an option due to safety concerns, post-COVID you can opt to volunteer in your local community in a number of ways.
You can sign up for local community clean-ups, help organize environmental awareness meetups, plant trees, or volunteer at schools to teach children about Earth Day and why we celebrate it. LiveScience posted a great article on even more ways you can volunteer for Earth Day (when it’s safe to be out and about again, of course).
To volunteer right now, be sure to check out Earth Day’s online Volunteer page for how you can get involved digitally this year.
Voting for politicians in your local, regional, and national level that support environmental initiatives, and believe in the science behind climate change, is perhaps one of the most important things you can do to help support a healthy planet.
It’s still crazy to me that climate change has become politicized when not that long ago, politicians on both sides of the aisle were in support of protecting our planet. In fact, it was a Republican president who created the EPA after Earth Day was founded.
Unfortunately over the past several years, many Republican politicians have changed their views about environmental policy. And since these politicians are not always for doing the right thing, when it comes to election time, it is more important than ever to do your research on your politicians’ stances on the environment.
Politicians are the ones creating and eliminating environmental policies and regulations, so it is of the utmost importance to support elected officials who will help create positive change through policy. Politicians now have their policies listed on their official websites, which is a great way to learn how committed they are to combat climate change before you cast your vote.
Along with voting, you can also call and write to current elected officials to let them know how important it is to you that they support climate change policy. After all, they work for you!
And that wraps up our Earth Day 50th Anniversary feature! How do you choose to celebrate Earth Day? Let us know in the comments, and happy Earth Day!