Happy Earth Day!
Earth Day began as the dream of Senator Gaylord Nelson, who took action by harnessing the energy of the student anti-war movement and channeling it into a “national teach-in on the environment” on April 22, 1970. The results were inspiring: people of all ages, backgrounds, classes, and political affiliations joined together in a demonstration of 20 million — the largest in American history. Earth Day’s massive display of public consciousness around pollution and wildlife endangerment succeeded in putting environmental protection and sustainability onto the national agenda. (Learn more about the history of Earth Day here.)
This inaugural Earth Day event helped produce the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and better enforcement of the Clean Air Act, as well as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We still have a long way to go in preserving and protecting our planet, but we have accomplished a lot since one person’s green dream became a reality.
While recycling and reducing waste remain critical to conserving the planet, new technologies and ideas are revolutionizing how we can imagine a greener future. That’s why this Earth Week, we’re encouraging our supporters to try new ways to live green, use green technology, create green spaces, and build green communities. Here are a few wonderful things we thought you should know about:
- Tiny homes require fewer resources to be built, need less energy for heat and power, and reduce the accumulation of waste. Residential houses are responsible for roughly 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, emitting 28,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year. Living in a tiny house generates roughly 2,000 pounds, thereby drastically reducing environmental impact.
- New technologies help reduce energy use at home by letting people turn off lights remotely, optimizing heating and cooling based on personal preferences, and detecting human motion to power down rooms when not in use.
- Adding trees and plants to homes and work spaces helps the environment and improves comfort by removing pollutants from the air, reducing heat buildup, and lowering energy consumption. Green rooftops can reduce the energy needed to cool the floor below by upwards of 50 percent.
- Commitment to the preservation of natural spaces has led to a rise in land-sharing, which makes more green spaces available to adventurers, keeps natural habitats “natural”, and creates communities where campers can connect with landowners to help maintain their land.
- Farmers markets and digital food hubs connect communities to local food sources and increase access to fresh foods, reduce food waste by harvesting only what is needed, and shortens the distance that food travels. Food travels over 1,000 miles on average to the retail store where it is sold; produce from local or regional sources travels roughly 27 times less the distance than conventionally-sourced produce.
New environmentally-conscious products, services, and technologies are helping us live greener every year. Earth Day is our opportunity to celebrate the creative and innovative ways people are making—and transforming—eco-friendly lifestyle choices. This annual day of awareness and action reminds us that we must protect the world and its natural resources – together.