Earth Day

Written By: Susan Harmon, Director of National Safe Place Operations

April 22, 2019, is Earth Day.  You’ve probably heard of it, but do you know what it is, and how it came about?  Earth Day began in 1970 at a time of great citizen engagement and call to action.  Individuals were very concerned about the use and misuse of natural resources and the effects on the environment. Gas-guzzling vehicles were the norm, and gas shortages were beginning to become commonplace.  Air and water pollution were in the spotlight, and litter on the roadways was a national eye sore.  Earth Day was one response to this growing crisis.  To learn more about the history of Earth Day, visit

The creation of Earth Day brought about great improvement in our environment, but there is more to do.  Some of the changes made and actions taken in the last 4 decades have reduced pollution, but we shouldn’t “take our foot off the pedal” of our efforts.  It is easy to become complacent and maybe even a little lazy because things seem so much better.  So what can we do to continue to protect our environment and save the beauty of our surroundings? 

Collectively, “we” can make a difference.  Every small thing we (as individuals, families, organizations, communities, states, and nations) do matters.  Good or bad, all of our actions and inactions have consequences. There are some simple tasks everyone can get involved in:

  • Reduce consumption – use less of everything – paper, water, gas, electricity, etc.
  • Reuse and repurpose – be creative
  • Purchase items that have less packaging – buy in larger containers and use portion-size, reusable containers
  • When purchasing produce and when possible, don’t use the plastic bags. 
  • Use reusable shopping bags – keep them in your car, or in another place where they are handy to reach when going shopping
  • Recycle – as much as possible.  Many communities are having trouble selling their recyclable materials and are scaling back their recycling programs, but do whatever you can to recycle and keep these materials out of the landfill. 
  • Do not litter – and if you see trash, pick it up.  Start a walking/trash pickup activity. Commit to picking up the trash around your home or agency once a week or whenever you see trash.
  • Visit for more ideas and to commit to taking action.

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