Clean up your act, clean up the environment
Every year since 1970, on April 22, people have celebrated Earth Day. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson believed people needed to care more about Earth and the environment. Since it wasn’t a topic very heavily covered by the media, the first Earth Day was created, according to earthday.org.
On a more local level, one of the most popular events in past years has been Earth Day Columbus. According to Earth Day Communications Director Erich Hiner with Green Columbus, the first Earth Day Columbus took place in 2007, after some local residents decided to give back to the community.
“It was a small effort at first with only a dozen or so service sites around the area. Since then, it’s grown by leaps and bounds. This year, we have more than 170 service sites across the Greater Columbus region. To see all our service sites or to volunteer, go to earthdaycolumbus.org,” Hiner said.
The ever-growing event focuses on bettering the environment by doing things like picking up trash and planting trees. Thousands of participants attend every year to make a change in the environment. Also, there’s a celebration on Earth Day complete with family activities and food trucks, which helps to bring in more people.
“Several thousand volunteers take part every year. In 2017, more than 4,000 volunteers donated more than 14,000 volunteer hours to picking up litter, cleaning roads and trails, preparing community gardens, and more. Since we’ve started, our volunteers have planted more than 114,000 trees and donated more than 100,000 volunteer hours to local environmental projects—combined, that’s more than 11 years of community service!” Hiner said.
Earth day is a meaningful event for many reasons. It helps bring the community together, as many people who might not normally get involved with the environment join together to help clean up their surroundings and celebrate Earth. However, stepping up to clean up the environment doesn’t have to be dedicated to one day out of the year, according to active community volunteer and senior class liaison for Interact club, Rodaba Rahim.
“Earth day is especially important to me because I come from a country that is heavily polluted and so I’ve come to appreciate the earth and all of its beauty and definitely want to maintain that. I don’t think you need a day to get started on keeping the earth clean. I believe we should always be celebrating and taking care of the earth,” Rahim said.
Earth Day activities aren’t limited to the most commonly thought of things like cleaning up trash, recycling and planting trees. There are many ways to help the earth while completing everyday tasks and activities.
“Be mindful of water use by taking shorter showers, running dishwashers only when full, and turning off the tap when brushing your teeth. Reuse plastic grocery bags at home or—better yet—buy reusable canvas bags! Plug your power-hungry devices into a power strip and turn it off when not in use to save electricity. Buy a durable, washable travel mug to cut down on paper cup usage. You might find that many coffee shops will give you a discount too!” Hiner said.
In addition to the empowering experience of participating in Earth Day events, organizations such as Earth Day Columbus may also give back to volunteers for helping out. To get involved, a full list of volunteer sites is available at earthdaycolumbus.org.
“The environmental challenges we face can feel big and overwhelming, but getting together with others to pitch in and make an impact is a good first step to tackling those issues. It’s proof we can accomplish great things by working together, and it’s a chance to make a difference in your own backyard! Of course, the volunteer rewards don’t hurt either! Everyone who donates their time at an Earth Day worksite will get a free scoop of Jeni’s ice cream, a free small coffee at the Roosevelt Coffee House downtown, a free smoothie at Alchemy Juice Bar, and a free small plate at the Crest Gastropub,” Hiner said.