Earth Day 2020: A Hope, A Beginning
Our precious Earth is the only planet identified till date as being able to sustain life. To contribute towards our planet, it is mandatory to protect it with everything we have. Technological advances, sure, are the need of this century but should go hand in hand in preserving all living/non-living entities. Our atmosphere must be protected as well. Thus, arises the need to celebrate Earth day. The day when our impact on this planet is summed up, policies are made and strategies implemented such that Earth is salvaged from untimely extinction.
History of Earth Day
Earth Day is celebrated on 22nd April every year and American Senator Gaylord Nelson is acknowledged as its founder. This is because he announced Earth Day as an environmental teach-in on April 22, 1970. Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for this initiative. At first this day was observed only in the US, but an organisation formed by Denis Hayes, took this event international in 1990 with 141 nations participating and observing this day as Earth Day. Many treaties and strategic developments have been organised on this day since its birth such as the Paris Agreement in 2016, the March for Science in 2017 and People’s Climate Mobilization, also in 2017. Now more than 193 countries participate in Earth day celebrations, which is co-ordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.
Earth Day 2020
This year the theme of Earth day is ‘Climate Action’. Climate change has gained momentum. Its tenacious nature is impossible to overcome in a short period of time. Major fossil fuel-based industries, inevitable in the modern era, and use of plastics cannot be completely banned until some alternative methods are carefully experimented and employed. To make the need known even more, we got word of a rather depressing event. A group of German scientists found out that 1 litre of Arctic ice, in the form of ice cores, contained nearly 12,000 micro-plastic substances. This is way too much and if such accumulation continues, it will eventually lead to destruction of marine habitat in the polar seas. And let us not forget the disarray we are in, right now. Apart from coronavirus, our world has been plagued by water and food crisis, air pollution, erratic climate events, and tremendous loss of biodiversity. Now do you see? Nothing has been spared.
Youth: Power and Hope of Planet Earth
Young generation is the hope of our civilization. It has the power to bring about change in the existing system. As per recent reports, the current global youth population is nearly 1 billion, which if mobilized properly, has the strength to overcome any kind of adverse event, climate or otherwise. United Nations has launched an initiative known as ‘#littlebylittle’,which aims at guiding youth to substantiate their global power and introduce small yet effective ways to contribute to a variety of social, developmental, technological as well as environmental scenarios. As per this initiative, every little environment protection act you perform is to be recorded and sent to the organisation. This is so that an overall report can be generated, showcasing how much of energy resources have been saved every month or year. Thus, little acts of protection sum up to a larger action which has the tendency to help tackle problems of the present and the future.
Our youth, the next generation of scientists, politicians and academicians, have to be responsible, and take action to mitigate climate change effects, as the Earth Day theme suggests. Our best option is adopting minimalistic lifestyle choices.
Some of these efficient choices are:
- Recycle: It seems obvious, but we’re not doing a great job of it. For example, less than 14 percentof plastic packaging is recycled. It is even less for metal and galss containers. Confused about what can and can’t go in the bin? Check out the number on the bottom of the container i.e. # 1 (PET), #2 (HDPE), #5 (PP) or check with the manufacturer for recyclable items.
2. Wean yourself off disposable plastics: 90% of the plastic itemsin our daily lives are used once and then chucked: grocery bags, plastic wrap, disposable cutlery, straws, coffee-cup lids. Take note of how often you rely on these products and replace them with reusable versions.
- Boycott microbeads: Those little plastic scrubbers found in so many beauty products—facial scrubs, toothpaste, body washes—might look harmless, but their tiny size allows them to slip through water-treatment plants. Unfortunately, they also look just like food to some marine animals. Opt for products with natural exfoliants, like oatmeal or salt, instead.
- Eat at home: Not only is it healthier, but making your own meals doesn’t involve take-out containers or doggy bags. It reduces your carbon footprint as well.
5. Stop buying water: Each year, close to 20 billion plastic bottles are tossed in the trash. Carry a reusable bottle in your bag.
6. Buy in bulk: Single-serving yogurts, travel-size toiletries, tiny packages of nuts—consider the product-to-packaging ratio of items you tend to buy often and select the bigger container instead of buying several smaller ones over time.
7. Bring your own garment bag to the dry cleaner: Invest in a zippered fabric bag and request that your cleaned items be returned in it instead of sheathed in plastic.
- Purchase items second-hand: New toys and electronic gadgets, especially, come with all kinds of plastic packaging—from those frustrating hard-to-crack shells to twisty ties. Search the shelves of thrift stores, neighbourhood garage sales, or online postings for items that are just as good when previously used. You’ll save yourself some money, too.
9. Support a bag tax or ban: Urge your elected officials to follow the lead of those close to 150 other cities and counties by introducing or supporting legislation that would make plastic-bag use less desirable.
10. Use public transport and reduce air travel: It is always better to carpool or use public transport that’s more eco-friendly than using your car. As much as you can, avoid taking airplanes everywhere.
- Put pressure on manufacturers/industries: Though we can make a difference through our own habits, corporations obviously have a much bigger footprint. If you believe a company could be smarter about its packaging, fossil fuel use, transport, or garbage, make your voice heard. Write a letter, send a tweet, or hit them where it really hurts: give your money to a more sustainable competitor!
Let us not forget. Climate change is real. As real as the virus around us, which although cannot be seen, has dreadful potential for devastation. Let us begin our pledges and actions now. Let us heal, everyone, all of us, together.