This year we are celebrating the 47th annual Earth Day. Since its start in 1970, it has grown into an international day of awareness. People across the world come together to demonstrate how important our planet is and why we need to protect it. Earth Day also inspired legislation in the United States that was not seen before: laws that protected natural resources. Most of these laws, including the Clean Air Act (1970) and the Endangered Species Act (1973), were the first of their kind. The United States set an example for the rest of the world.
Although we have made great progress, there is still a lot of work to do. The environment is still in peril even with the legislation in place. New environmental legislation is not as prominent nowadays and laws are just one part of the solution. A shift is required in the hearts and minds of Americans and people around the world. Humans are causing significant changes to the environment and some of them are irreversible. For example, species such as Rabb’s Treefrog and the Barbados Racer went extinct in 2016.
Even though the movement started in the 60s and 70s, it continues to evolve. The internet and social media influences this as well. A picture (or video) is worth a thousand words and being able to share these instantly has helped bring attention to many new issues.
One way we at Pinellas Extension have tried to increase awareness is by hosting an Earth Day Mail Art Contest. What better way to express the importance of the environment than with art! Our categories were #LoveTampaBay, #ToEarthWithLove, and #PlasticAware. Each of these categories encouraged participants to focus on environmental issues and ongoing positive changes. Many children entered the contest and it was inspiring to see how many of them included recycling, anti-litter themes, and positive messages about green space in their art.
All of the entries from this contest are posted on our Facebook page. Take a look and get inspired.
As this Earth Day approaches, think about what sustainable changes you can make or how you can spread awareness of environmental issues that you are passionate about. Remember, Earth Day is every day!
Main US Environmental Laws
Guide to US Environmental Laws
Benefits of Green Spaces
UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County Facebook Page
contributed by Trevor Ackerman, Sustainability Program Assistant