About the author: Michelle Gugger graduated from Rutgers University in 2008. She is currently spending a year of service at EPA’s Region 3 Office in Philadelphia, PA as an AmeriCorps VISTA.
Earth Day is a day for citizens to give back to their environment. It is a day that Americans have celebrated since 1970 in efforts to create a healthier and more sustainable planet. This year, it will be celebrated on April 22, 2009. Millions of people will come together to participate in volunteer opportunities throughout the country. Whether they will be cleaning up parks, clearing streams, planting trees or participating in hundreds of other types of environmental activities, the importance of their volunteerism is that they will be reducing the impact on the environment that we have all been creating. A great outcome in return from their work is that they will be able to really see the results of their efforts and know that they are making a difference. I encourage all of you to become involved in Earth Day activities too. There are many advertisements on the internet looking for Earth Day volunteers that you can register for. You can also go to EPA’s Earth Day website that will show you volunteer opportunities in your area. If you can’t find anything close to your neighborhood, I encourage you to start your own event. There are many things you can do, some examples of Earth Day activities that you can plan include:
- Storm water marking. In groups you can label the storm drains in your community to educate your neighbors about water pollution. Contact your community’s water department for the storm drain marking toolkits.
- Organize an Earth Day fair at your school or community center and invite your neighborhood. Educate them by creating environmental skits or by handing out information. Most organizations give out free publications as a part of their outreach efforts. EPA’s publication website can be found at http://www.epa.gov/epahome/publications.htm
- Plant native trees and plants around your community. Native plants are better for the environment because they provide wildlife, filter pollutants and absorb CO2 – a greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change. Go to http://www.plantnative.org/reg_pl_main.htm for more information.
- Start a recycling collection at your school. Examples of things to recycle include: ink cartridges, batteries, paper, books, newspapers, plastic bags, cell phones and magazines. A recycling center locator that will show you where you can recycle your collection materials can be found at http://earth911.com/.
- Vistit www.epa.gov/climateforaction/ for more ideas.
Can you think of any other Earth Day activities to be involved with on April 22nd? Be sure to let us know. Earth Day is a great opportunity to reduce our impact on important environmental issues like climate change, water pollution, air pollution and toxic land contamination. Last year an Earth Day activity in Philadelphia brought 15,000 residents together which created the largest one-day, citywide cleanup in America. Together, they were able to remove over 2.5 million pounds of trash and 48,000 pounds of recyclable materials. Their efforts cleared 3,500 blocks of litter and hazardous materials making the area a cleaner and safer place to live. Get involved too!!!! Become a climate ambassador in your community. Your efforts will support a good cause and make a great impact.