In 1960′s, Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin, was concerned about the fact that the environment was a non-issue in the politics in the U.S. He gave many lectures, attended conferences, demonstrations, and he wanted to convince the U.S. government to put environment on its political agenda. He even convinced President Kennedy to go on a five day conservation tour in eleven states but for many reasons, it wasn’t successful. But Senator Nelson continued his efforts to bring conservation and the environment into people’s minds, especially politicians.
In 1969, while on a conservation tour in the West, he thought of having a grassroot protest, similar to Anti-Vietnam War Teach-In that had spread across college campuses. During a conference in Seattle in 1969, he announced that in Spring of 1970, there will be a grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment and that everyone is invited to join. He later admitted that he didn’t know what to expect and that his office was not ready to handle so many letters, phone calls, and inquiries about the event. But on April 22, 1970, about 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day. It, somehow, organized itself. Read Senator’s own words about this historical day.
FYI…..EPA was formed in 1970 by President Nixon. More than billion people celebrate Earth Day today, world’s single largest secular civic event.
What we can do……..
We all know what we have to do. We probably practice some of them right now. But just to recap on what we can do to be more greener and to continue Senator Nelson’s legacy…
- Food: Eat foods that are local and don’t have to travel far to reach your table. If your budget allows for some organic purchases, then prioritize by spending your money on organic versions of fruits and vegetables such as peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, and nectarines, that tend to have the most pesticide residues. Onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mangoes, and others are not as crucial since conventional versions don’t have as many pesticides. Read my post about dirty dozen. Eat less meat and read my post about Meatless Mondays and why eating meat is bad for the environment.
- Food prep and storage: Avoid plastic containers when possible. Use glass and stainless steel to store your leftovers in.
- Personal care: Avoid petroleum byproducts, fragrances, and other unsafe chemicals whenever possible. Visit Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Database to see how healthy your cosmetics are and to find alternatives when necessary.
- Children: Choose toys made without toxic chemicals. The easiest way to find them is to search Good Guide’s extensive database.
- Cleaning: Simply cutting down on the number of cleaning products you use will save money and limit the number of toxic chemicals you’re exposed to. Drain, oven, and acid-based toilet cleaners are among the most toxic in your home so try eliminating them first. Try using vinegar and baking soda for your household cleanup as well as doing laundry. They are cheap and very eco-friendly. Read my post about them here.
- Save energy and water: Save energy by installing a thermostat. Also, install a low-flow showerheads and faucets . They will not only save water, but also the energy it takes to heat water. Also, do laundry in cold water. 90% of energy is spent on washing cloths is on heating water.
- Home improvement: Adding insulation to your home will cost money up front, but you’ll save on heating and cooling bills. Skeptical? Insulating your attic will save about $116 a year on energy bills.
- Garden: Avoid using synthetic pesticides and other poisons. Some suggestions: Use mulch to prevent weeds, and weed by hand instead or relying on chemicals. Also use compost instead of fertilizer to feed your soil. Read about this writer who composts in her apartment kitchen and she shows you how to make an indoor worm condo.
- Transportation: Drive less and carpool more. Take public transportation once or twice a week. Run weekend errands all at once. Better yet, try riding a bkie or walk to do your errands.