Digging into Earth Day 

Picture it. The year was 1970. Elvis Presley visited President Richard Nixon in the White House. Vietnam War protests raged. The Beatles broke up. PBS began broadcasting. And, on April 22, just five days after Apollo 13 splashed down safely, the first Earth Day celebration took place (though the original Earth Day was more of a series of anti-pollution demonstrations than a celebration).

Earth Day Trivia That’s Far from Trivial

• Earth Day was the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from 1963 until 1981.

• The date of April 22 was selected because it fell between spring break and final exams.

• The original Earth Day served as a catalyst for the passage of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

• Earth Day is now observed in 192 countries. According to EarthDay.org, it is the largest “civic-focused day of action in the world.”

• Plans are already in the works for the global golden anniversary celebration of Earth Day in 2020.

What’s a Celebration Without a Theme?

This year’s Earth Day theme is End Plastic Pollution. The Earth Day Network is launching a global campaign to put an end to single-use-plastics, which injure marine life, disrupt human hormones, and overwhelm our landfills. Recycling one ton of plastics saves around 2,000 pounds of oil.

So put on your party hat (made from recycled paper, naturally) and check out some easy ways you can get involved!

• If you haven’t done so already, commit to using cloth grocery bags. Americans still use approximately 102.1 billion plastic bags annually. While you’re at it, invest in cloth produce bags. Just be sure to wash them frequently.

• Ditch the single-use plastic water bottles for a reusable bottle made of stainless steel or BPA-free plastic. Americans used approximately 50 billion plastic water bottles in 2017. With a plastic recycling rate of 23 percent, that means more than $1 billion worth of plastic was wasted.

• Take your own mug to coffee shops.

• Make your own cleaning products. Never underestimate the power of vinegar.

• When given the option, buy boxes over plastic bottles. Cardboard is more easily recycled.

• Stop using plastic straws. Reusable, stainless steel, or silicone drinking straws are available at a variety of retailers.

• Embrace the trend of packing your lunch in Mason jars instead of plastic containers.

Author: Emilie Quisenberry

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