What is Earth Day?
Earth Day is not any old holiday. We don’t celebrate with feasts and presents or balloons, but often through volunteerism and activism. Initially, Earth Day was a day of advocacy and civil action paired with celebration. Then Senator Gaylord Nelson spearheaded the first Earth Day on April 22nd, 1970, working with groups at universities and a nationwide campaign to promote events. Over 20 million Americans participated in that first Earth Day, highlighting the public will and desire for environmental change. This showcase of public opinion helped push the adoption of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Acts, which have dramatically improved environmental quality.
The first Earth Day serves as an inspiration to others hoping to make local, national or global impact. The holiday promotes awareness of locally relevant environmental issues. Celebrations often include music, festivals and volunteerism with local environmental organizations.
Many people feel overwhelmed hearing about climate change, algal blooms, endangered species, urban development and transportation issues. It can be difficult for the holiday to remain relevant in the face of so many seemingly unrelated environmental concerns. In general, our communities are reeling from a global pandemic, trying to pick up the pieces of normalcy, and not seeking out grand environmental gestures. The good news about sustainability is that it starts with awareness and grows through small individual choices. These choices affect the individual, which in turn influence the community and so on to broad environmental impact.
What Can You Do?
Here in Manatee County, Florida, Earth Day is celebrated by many local organizations including Keep Manatee Beautiful and Manatee County Government. Some local parks and preserves are hosting individual events as well. See the links listed below for ways you can get involved on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2021.
Taking individual sustainable actions aren’t just for Earth Day. We offer many resources for our community to help make more sustainable choices. From landscaping to energy conservation to food choices, your UF/IFAS Extension office can walk you through the necessary steps to lighten your individual impact on the planet. Check out some of our upcoming classes to learn more: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/ufifas-extension-manatee-county-8304772301
If you are interested in seeing the impact your daily choices can have on sustainability and climate try out the Environmental Protection Agency’s Carbon Footprint Calculator. Answer questions honestly to determine how small steps in your daily life can lower your overall footprint.
Interested specifically in the science of Climate Change in Florida? Check out this YouTube playlist.
Keepin’ it Green
If you are looking for ways to keep that ‘green’ feeling going throughout the year, check out the upcoming Sustainability Lunch and Learn webinar series hosted by UF/IFAS Extension Manatee and Sarasota Counties. These webinars will feature a UF/IFAS Extension Agent discussing a different sustainability topic each month with time for open discussion. All attendees to the webinar series will also receive a link to participate in the Sustainable Floridians self-paced online course. The optional Sustainable Floridians online course contains seven modules of recorded presentations, videos, articles, journaling activities and more. The online course aims to provide individuals with the tools necessary to take more sustainable individual actions.
Register here for the upcoming Sustainability webinar series occurring on the third Thursday of the month starting April 29th.