The Legacy of Earth Day
With Earth Day approaching, it is crucial to understand the human habits that harm our natural world, and understand what exactly it is we can do. The environmentalist movement was conceived in 1970, and has roared louder and louder with each passing year. The Clean Air and Water Acts of the 70s have translated into the Montreal Protocol of the 80s and Paris Climate Agreements of the 2010s. It is growing more and more evident that humans are pushing the Earth to its limits, and we are soon approaching a point of no return.
Now while it seems like humans can’t do anything but destruction, the truth is quite the opposite. After realizing our greedy faults, humans have taken up arms to combat our own evils. The shift to renewable energy, albeit slow, has steadily risen. While the US is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, there is an optimistic trend towards sustainable electricity. According to the U.S Energy Information Administration, renewable energy production had reached a whopping 12.32 quads in 2021, the greatest number in American history. Electric vehicles are slowly emerging in the automotive industry, and will continue to grow in the market as EV technology and efficiency improves.
Americans’ awareness of the dangers single-use plastics have on the environment has also grown. The shift to a decreased reliance on plastic is leaving less pollution in our waterways and less waste. The reemergence of thrifting has been a huge assist as well, as more and more consumers are straying away from the temptations of fast fashion. While the environmental movement has only created just a tiny crack in the long standing foundation of traditional, unsustainable habits, its presence is laying the groundwork for a greater change that is unarguably inevitable.
While the large scale numbers don’t look great in a fight against the giants of plastic, fossil fuels, and ignorance, a sanguine trend is clearly evident. It is obvious that many Americans are finally doing their part to make a change for the better. So, what exactly can we do to join the environmental revolution? You don’t need a degree in chemistry to make a difference. See those plastic water bottles you buy at the grocery store? Ditch them for their reusable counterparts. At the very minimum, if you can’t see yourself making the switch, recycle your plastic bottles to limit the sheer amount of plastic production and shift to a circular production line. If possible, carpool to work and school or seek out public transportation if your area offers it. Public transportation is a centerpiece to fighting the carbon emissions that the millions of our cars currently plague our air with. Even making a simple alteration to your diet can make a difference. The beef that mostly comes from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), releases greenhouse gases that accelerate the effects of global warming. One cow can produce up to 264 pounds of methane gas per year. Switching to a plant-based or even poultry-based diet will help the fight for our Earth. A sustainable economy is crucial to reducing pollution and production. Be mindful of what you buy, and know what exactly it is you are buying. Consume products that will last, and are repairable when they break. Limiting consumption to as little of whatever it is you are buying is key. By reducing what you buy, you can reduce what you waste. As mentioned earlier, thrifting is a great way to sustainably shop rather than buying that cheap, low-quality product online that will leave your rotation of clothes in a matter of weeks.
As you celebrate Earth Day this year, educate yourself on our environmental revolution. Be mindful of just how detrimental your daily habits can be to our precious Earth, and become aware of the solutions to fix them. It doesn’t have to be an absolute shift towards living off the grid, a gradual change is a step in the right direction. Learn about our nature and gain an appreciation for it. Just by taking a hike deep in our luscious forests or dipping in our serene waters can really awaken the spirit and realize the natural affinity between environment and human. It’s time we take up arms in the war against our own self-inflicted wounds. Let’s make a difference.