How will you celebrate Earth Day?
Though I like to think every day is Earth Day, it is officially April 22nd. We are already in the midst of a full blown Earth Day celebration though because this past Monday kicked off Earth Week (April 16th through the 22nd). This year marks the 42nd Anniversary and we have a man named Gaylord Nelson to thank because of it. Before the 70s there were no regulations to dumping trash and/or toxins into backyards, waters, wherever. Rivers caught on fire and DDT was used to treat lice. Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin who channeled the emerging environmentally-conscious energy that labored from multiple events including the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California and the success of Rachel Carson’s bestseller Silent Spring in 1962. It was simple—he called for a national “teach-in” about the environment, resulting in 20 million Americans taking it up a notch. Students, colleagues, families, Republicans, Democrats: they all unified to celebrate the Earth.
Thanks to Earth Day, the US Environmental Protection Agency was formed in December of that year. This led the foundation for vital legislation in protecting our environment and health: The Clean Water Act in 1972 and the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974. All one really needs to do to honor Earth Day is be thankful each and every time you use your water for cooking, bathing, washing, drinking, etc. As Waterkeepers, we make sure the Clean Water Act is being upheld and enforced to not only protect the river (or other water bodies) but to make sure the citizens that use its resources are protected as well.
Now that you are caught up to speed on the history behind Earth Day, what will you do in the present? There will be many trash pick-up events, which are great. Challenge yourself to pick up trash daily, even if it is just a receipt on the ground (if lucky, you may find some change!). A different approach is to get yourself outside. Try to find where the nearest body of water is to where you live. Where does the storm drain next to your road lead? Appreciating the environment is just as important as celebrating and protecting it. This Saturday, the White Oak-New Riverkeeper Alliance is partnering up with Second Wind Eco Tours and Yoga to host an Eco Tour on the White Oak River in honor of Earth Day. This is a wonderful opportunity for people to get on the water and learn about their environment hands-on. And it is FUN! We will be departing from the boat launch in the Croatan National Forest off of Highway 58; paddle equipent and kayaks are provided as well as a lunch and you will receive a membership to the White Oak-New riverkeeper Alliance. Register here! We hope to see you on the water, but if not-make sure to celebrate in your own way, even if it is enjoying a nice glass of cold water from the tap!