April 22 is Earth Day, the annual celebration of nature and commitment to its protection and preservation. According to Time, Earth Day 2015 includes a cleanup of the Great Wall of China, beach-litter removal in Lebanon, and an attempt to protect 25,000 acres of rain forest in Indonesia.
Recycling, reusing, and cleanup projects aren’t just for hippies and environmentalists, however. Everyone can and should get behind the message of Earth Day — even small changes can make a difference at a time when our planet is in danger. Today is a celebration of honoring nature but also recognizing the role we play in keeping our planet clean on a daily basis.
In the past 50 years, we've consumed more natural resources than in all previous history combined (Eco Cycle) and because of the burning of fossil fuels, there is now more carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere than at any other time in the last 800,000 years (dosomething.org). Increased carbon has been the driving force behind global warming, which affects nearly every ecosystem, large and small. Furthermore, we have exploited and continue to rapidly destroy our planet with our continued industrialization and deforestation.
Here are a few ways you can make a difference today and every day of the year, courtesy of MTV.
- Seek out brands that are Rainforest Alliance Certified to make sure your dollars are supporting companies that don’t hurt rainforests.
- Fundraise for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), or use the WWF’s easy online forms to sign petitions and contact officials about protecting tiger habitats, stopping wildlife crime, protecting the Great Barrier reefs, saving elephants, and more.
- Support companies that use renewable energy sources, sign Greenpeace’s petition to stop oil drilling in the Arctic, and ask Shell not to get in the way of the UN climate talks in Paris this year.
- Using reusable shopping bags, water bottles, sandwich bags, and mugs instead of disposables can make a huge difference. You can also volunteer for a local beach cleanup and follow Rise the Above Plastics campaign on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed.
- Use the power of your wallet and your voice on social media to support these ten companies that run on 100% renewable energy. You can also follow @RenewablesNews on Twitter to stay informed.
- Buying local produce that’s in season, buying organic, and cutting back on meat can all make a big difference.
- Review bills pending in the US Congress that are related to the environment and contact your representatives to voice your support for laws that will help protect it.
Remember, this is our planet and thus our responsibility to ourselves and to all creatures big and small to take care of it.