This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day — a day when the world takes a moment to reflect on our environmental impact and the action needed to protect human and planetary health. Established in 1970 and inspired by a proposal from Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, the first earth day coordinated nation-wide local marches, rallies, parades and protests that brought an estimated 20 million American citizens into the streets to demand attention for environmental protection.
At Earth Day, during his remarks on April 22, 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson said:
“Earth Day can – and it must – lend a new urgency and a new support to solving the problems that still threaten to tear the fabric of this society… the problems of race, of war, of poverty, of modern-day institutions…our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures.”
Since 1970, we have seen the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the establishment of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the adoption of the World Charter for Nature and passage of landmark legislation, such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and the Endangered Species Act. We have also seen this early grassroots movement inspire hundreds of environmental protection, climate action, social justice, and youth movements around the globe. Last year, more than 1 billion individuals in over 190 countries mobilized to make change on Earth Day!
This year, as OSI joins the celebration of 50 years of the Earth Day movement, Emory students, faculty, and staff will have the opportunity to come together, despite the transition to remote learning and working, for our first ever 100% digital Earth Month Celebration.
Traditionally, to kick off Earth Month, OSI brings together student groups and Atlanta organizations who share a mission for sustainability for a one-day Earth Festival. During the event, students, faculty, and staff, meet the leaders of Atlanta’s many sustainability initiatives, and groups present their unique work ranging from renewable energy, ethical transportation, sustainable food and green space preservation alongside the weekly farmers market.
This year, we will highlight some of these Earth Festival groups through virtual Earth Month posts. In addition to sharing about partner organizations, we will share actions for #AtHomeActivism, virtual events you can join, articles we are reading, local resilience resources, and some exciting announcements from OSI along the way! EarthMonth 2020 kicks off on April 1st and will run through the month of April.
Creating a sustainable future takes a combination of societal and institution-wide commitments to sustainable practice (check out the impact of Emory’s commitments) and everyday actions of individuals. Over the past 50 years we have seen the monumental impact voices and choices can have on our planet. This Earth Month, we hope you will join us. “Like” Emory’s Office of Sustainability Initiatives on Facebook, follow @emorysustainability on Instagram and follow @EmoryGreen on Twitter to find ways to make a change this Earth Month. #EarthDayEveryDay #AtHomeActivism #EarthMonthLeaders #BlueandGoldMakeGreen
To get us started, here are a list of some ways we can take action for the Earth today!
- Complete the 2020 Census today, vote absentee for primary elections, and support political candidates who will protect the environment — all important eco-actions.
- Reflect on links between the current pandemic and climate change in recognizing our common humanity and interdependence, our impacts on our environment, and how our individual behavior can help save lives.
- Contact your Congressional representative to advocate for including in the next COVID19 stimulus spending bills a transition to clean energy technology and other sustainable industries that will help with climate change .
- Donate to environmental and social justice groups that address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, clean water, quality education, etc.).
- Order local, sustainable food from Georgia farmers. Make connections with farmers through resources collected by the Food Well Alliance and through The Common Market.
- Get outside to enjoy the natural world, but be sure to observe the CDC’s prevention guidelines. The PATH Foundation has nearly 300 miles of trails, so be sure to space yourself out. Being outside boosts mental and physical health and helps us appreciate the importance of protecting our earth every day.
- Participate in the global digital Earth Day Network celebration events.
- Save money and reduce energy-related emissions by unplugging unneeded devices, turning off lights, and programming your thermostat to match the seasons in your home.
- Share the wonders of nature with your family, friends or roommates by taking a moment to watch the sunrise or sunset together (even virtually) and to appreciate the beauty of spring flowers and animal life.
- Cook or grow food with family,friends or roommates, and, above all, engage in actions together that help you grow as empathetic global citizens.
The OSI Team