Earth is Back in Vogue

Earth Day is here!

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This is one in a continuing series of educational columns about fostering environmental stewardship and leadership coordinated by ACES -- the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.

Vogue magazine’s April 9th edition features an article titled “Everything You Need to Know About Earth Day 2024."
It recounted that Earth Day was the brainchild of US senator and environmentalist Gaylord Nelson, following a big oil spill in 1969 off the California coast near Santa Barbara. He came up with the idea of having college teach-ins to highlight the importance of clean air and water, with April 22 chosen as a convenient date between Spring Break and finals. An interesting poetic angle of its "origin story" is that Saint [Santa] Barbara was the patroness saint of firemen, firework makers, mathematicians, lighting and chemical engineers. Ironically all of these can be relevant to environmental discourse today.
Creating Earth Day was a brilliant and potent move with the first event in 1970 leading to an astonishing 20 million people participating. It was so big that by the end of that year President Richard Nixon, ever as astute politician, created the Environmental Protection Agency in December 1970, as well as signing of the Clean Air Act. 
Has it really worked? Don’t we still see bigger and more frequent storms, rising seas and more flooding? And what about and more industrial pollution and plastic microfibers than ever in our lives  

Yes! It has worked and will continue working as long as people bring their attention back to it. Worldwide meetings of nations like the COP 28, and Prince William’s Earth Shot Prize continue the push. So do major donors like Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ massive grants, especially on Africa. Reductions in automobile noxious gas emissions have been making strides each year, even more so as hybrids and EVs have emerged. And recent polls suggest that more than 30% of Americans are trying to cut back on their purchase and use of plastics. And more than that think there is too much plastic waste and its resulting pollution in our lives. 

But - there is always a but - lots more needs doing. That's where we come in. By "we" I mean humans and our lands and resident wildlife. We can re-wild our earth and make it a healthier and more prosperous place if we band together and think about, and do, innovative things. Things like planting pollinator gardens, insulating our homes better, creating community gardening spaces, and eliminating as many single use plastic applications as possible. 

It's a hopeful thing that humans are rallying around the globe. According to Deloitte’s Sustainable Consumer research of 2,000 UK adults, four out of five UK consumers adopted more sustainable lifestyle choices during COVID-19 pandemic. 85% of consumers adopted at least one lifestyle change to be more sustainable, with a third considered “highly engaged”. That's up 17 percentage points from before the pandemic. Three-fifths of consumers reduced their single-use plastic usage, while two-fifths are buying fewer new goods than they were a year ago, driven by Gen-Z and younger Millennials. A third of consumers look for brands with strong sustainable and ethical credentials.

Our collective “Earth Work" seems to be paying off. Let’s keep it up. Let’s try to do something every single day to make a difference. It's time for hope and hard work, not resentment and resignation. Let’s celebrate East Day together.

ACES youth corps and team members invite you to stay updated by subscribing to our monthly newsletter via the “Subscribe to Updates” tab on this website. Please consider joining our community of environmentally minded neighbors and let us know your thoughts or ideas to help MAKE EVERY DAY EARTH DAY at:

‍Together we can make a difference!

This column first appeared in The Newburyport Daily News on April 19, 2024.

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