Awareness of the environment and the need to protect it has come a long way since the first Earth Day was celebrated 46 years ago on April 22, 1970.
How It All Began
Earth Day was the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, a then-U.S. senator from Wisconsin. In 1969 he witnessed the severe damage of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. He was still thinking about the 1962 Rachel Carson New York Times bestseller Silent Spring, which detailed the link between pollution and public health and was an eye-opener for many Americans on the seriousness of growing environmental dangers. The oil spill made the issue even more real.
Fast forward to 1970. Most American cars were big V8 sedans that guzzled leaded gasoline. Air pollution wasn’t top of mind. The country was embroiled in the Vietnam War and many Americans, especially college students, were opposed to it. They rallied and protested.
Senator Nelson had the idea that if he could capture that same protest-movement energy of the college students and channel it through the general American population toward concern for the environment, he could bring the issues of air and water pollution to the mainstream mindset.
April 22, 1970, was chosen as the first official Earth Day celebration because that day fell between spring break and final exams on most college campuses. Senator Nelson was hoping to get greater student participation with that timing.
On that day 46 years ago, 20 million Americans mobilized for one cause: drawing attention to the severe problems of air and water pollution in the U.S.
Eventually, the actions of these part supporters, part protesters led to the development of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA eventually passed the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts, which play a major part in protecting our planet (and wildlife) from the ravages of pollution.
Earth Day 2016
Today, over one billion people in 192 countries around the world will celebrate Earth Day on April 22.
Enormous strides have been made over the decades toward protecting the environment. However, much work still needs to be done. The world is currently losing 15 billion trees every year – that’s the equivalent of 48 football fields every minute. Trees are vital assets to the environment. They create natural barriers from noise pollution, help to filter the air we breathe, and serve as homes woodland creatures.
What You Can Do To Help
There’s a lot you can do, even by doing very little.
Little things that make a difference:
- Make a commitment to yourself and the planet to not litter, ever. Cigarette butts tossed out the car window count as littering. Stop. (Better yet, stop smoking for a healthier you and healthier planet.)
- Recycle plastic, glass, and aluminum if your area has a recycling program. It only takes a few extra seconds to rinse out a container and toss it in the recycling bin.
- Carry a plastic grocery bag with you and pick up trash you see on your daily stroll.
- Always, always clean up after your pet when out for a walk, whether around your block, in the park, or along a hiking trail.
- Do you drive by the same littered area every day? Why not put on work gloves or rubber gloves, grab a trash bag, and take an hour out of your day after work or on the weekend to clean up that spot? You never know, others might join in the effort.
- When out for a picnic, watching a parade, or even fishing by the lakeside, do a final look around your spot before leaving to make sure you haven’t left behind any trash. Did someone else leave garbage? Be a sport and pick it up.
- Plant a tree. Even if you live in an apartment building you can pick up a tree seedling (most are smaller than a paper towel roll) from a local garden center and plant it in the woods by your favorite hiking trail or in a corner of the local park.
What You Can Do At Work
If you’re in the metalworking business, you use carbide tooling on a daily basis. Do you recycle those tools?
Take your planet-saving efforts one more step by recycling used carbide inserts and tooling through the Kennametal Carbide Recycling program. We’ll pay you cash for used carbide and will even supply the shipping containers if you need them.
Remember, every day is Earth Day. Get out there and enjoy the planet. But leave only footprints.