Earth Day is inarguably the world’s largest environmental movement. Celebrated worldwide on April 22, more than one billion people gather and participate in Earth Day Activities each year. But where did the idea for Earth Day come from?

The concept for a national day dedicated to protecting the environment was born shortly after Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin witnessed the devastating damages caused by the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. With much work and public petitioning, he managed to build a national staff of 85 to promote events across the country in hopes that an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.

The date that was ultimately chosen was April 22, 1970. On that date, something truly incredible happened. Groups and individuals that had been battling against the loss of wilderness, the extinction of wildlife, oil spills, polluting factories, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, and freeways quickly realized they shared common values.

During its first year, 20 million Americans headed out to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the degradation of our precious natural environment.

As previously stated, the movement now has over 1 billion active participants, and each year, a campaign theme is established. 2019’s campaign is to Protect Our Species, which is of utmost importance to us each day at Kiwi Energy. As per the Center for Biological Diversity, we’re currently experiencing the world’s largest wave of species loss since the wipeout of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, with dozens of species becoming extinct each day.  The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. If experts’ estimates are accurate, between 0.01% and 1% of all species will become extinct each year.

Our current biodiversity crisis (unlike mass extinctions that occurred in the past, which were caused by natural occurrences such as asteroids, or volcanic eruptions) is almost completely a result of human activity. In fact, the Center states that 99% of currently threatened species are at risk from human activities (primarily activities driving habitat loss, an introduction of exotic species, and global warming).

While this is alarming information, since we are mostly to blame, the power to change is within our hands. Luckily, there are many things we can do as humans to reduce our impact on the environment and to help preserve our world’s species. Here are a few meaningful things you can to celebrate Earth Day this year and specifically to the Protect Our Species Campaign.

1. Focus your volunteering efforts to help support the wildlife in your community. Some great ideas include:

  • Building/cleaning up a garden in your neighborhood
  • Helping out at a local wildlife rehabilitation center or animal sanctuary
  • Organizing a beach clean-up for your family and friends
  • Hosting a donation-based, green, eco-friendly, and plastic free earth day event for your friends, family, and neighbors. Donate the funds to an environmental organization of choice. (Some great non-profits to consider are Earth Day Network, Wild Forests and Fauna, Earthwatch Institute, GrowNYC, and Wild Life Alliance)

2. Stop using pesticides in your yard

  • Pesticides wreak havoc on the environment and weaken the natural systems we depend on for survival. Pesticide runoff can be harmful not only to fish and other aquatic organisms but to humans as well. In addition to the dangers imposed by pesticide use on both the human and aquatic populations, these toxic weed killers are killing off important pollinators.
  • Learn how to garden organically. You don’t need hazardous pesticides to grow healthy vegetables, gardens, and lawns. Here are some great resources from Beyond Pesticides to help you get started

3. Reduce your eco-footprint in all aspects of your life including (but most certainly not limited to):

  • Be smart when it comes to electricity
  • Reduce your water usage
  • Grocery shop sustainably (i.e. think before you buy and purchase only what you need, shop local and organic, and always bring your own bag!)
  • Avoid plastic at all costs and invest in some reusables (water bottle, travel coffee mug, silverware, steel straw, food container, and so on)
  • Opt for eco-friendly modes of transportation (public transportation, biking, walking, and carpooling are all better for the environment than driving alone)

4. Eat less meat

  • According to Greenpeace, the livestock industry (raising cows, pigs and chickens) produces as much greenhouse gas emissions as all cars, trucks, and automobiles combined. Cattle ranchers are also responsible for cutting millions of square kilometers of forests for grazing pastures, destroying natural “carbon sinks.”
  • We’re not advocating that everyone give up meat tomorrow, but we do think it’s important for all of us to develop some awareness around the harmful effects of the industry, and reduce the amount we include in our diets
  • All you need to do is commit to eating vegan a few meals per week and make fruits and vegetables a bigger part of your food intake

These are just a few of the many actions you can take do to celebrate our planet this Earth Day. To make Earth Day, join us in our mission of creating a sustainable future by enrolling with Kiwi Energy today!