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Elle Ossello | 04.22.2019

Earth Day is a long-celebrated holiday, but lately it’s been feeling more like an excuse for companies to barrage us with marketing than the purposeful rabble-rousing call to dig our hands into a task for which the sole beneficiary is Mother Earth. The TLDR of this post: there’s no wrong way to do Earth Day (unless you do nothing). 

Inspired by the environmental protests of the 1960’s, Earth Day was Wisconsin Democratic Senator Gaylord Nelson’s brainchild. He wanted to kickstart national teach-in days on the environment. Up until this point, the issue of protecting the environment was virtually undetectable on the national and international agenda, and corporations were nearly completely unchecked in their use of harmful pesticides, dumping of pollutants into rivers, and utilizing manufacturing methods that produced harmful byproducts and released them into the air. 

Senator Nelson introduced the concept at a conference in Seattle in the fall of 1969 and invited the entire nation to get involved. His invitation was very well received. As evident by the speed at which the message traveled and communities started hopping on board, the country was primed for making environmental protection a priority. Parades were organized as well as seminars, activities-based events, and more. Later that year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded, and protecting the natural world became a permanent fixture on the national agenda.

Today, Earth Day is renowned as the largest secular civic event in the world with over 140 nations participating.

We’re of the conviction that every day should be celebrated as though it’s Earth Day, below we’ve outlined some suggestions for turning every day into April 22 to make your corner of Planet Earth a bit more beautiful.

First, Check Your Employee Handbook

Most companies have a clause in their employee benefits package that allows for flexible time off for volunteer time. Before you write Earth Day off as an initiative for those with more flexible schedules, have a quick chat with your HR rep about the company policy. Better yet, propose a corporate volunteer day and get a whole crew to join you.

Connect with Local Non-Profits

True, Earth Day is now a global affair, but don’t let your global thinking prevent you from seeking out ways to improve your corner of the world. Even though it might not feel as though picking up trash out of your local streams and raising a few hundred dollars is impactful, every little bit counts. Every action—small as it might be—infinitely outweighs inaction.

For a robust list of volunteer options, take a quick look at VolunteerMatch. You can quickly and easily filter results by location and keyword to find organized events to join—like tree plantings, urban beautification, and trail maintenance. And, if you’re unable to participate in a physical activity, you can also search for virtual events that allow you to participate and add your voice from your couch! 

EarthDay.org is another excellent organizational and brainstorming tool that help rally communities around a common initiative. This year, protecting species, and ending plastic pollution are the two main initiatives. Visit the site to learn more about different actions to take to add your voice to the crowd and get educated about why these two topics have been chosen as the keystone projects of Earth Day 2019.

Speak Out

The hard truth: while environmental protection and climate change are national conversations, there is still an inordinate number of politicians and leaders who are not doing nearly enough to properly allocate funds or impose proper legislation to make a difference. This year, consider Earth Day the perfect conversation starter. Write letters to your local and national politicians and arm yourself with information to have gentle yet pointed conversations with friends and family members that don’t vote with the earth. Shifting a mindset starts in empathetic, familiar spaces, and every changed mind is a truly positive step in the right direction.

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