More than 45 years ago – on the very first Earth Day – tens of millions of people decided to do something about environmental destruction. They rallied against pollution, oil spills, pesticides and deforestation… issues that continue to resonate with us today.
Their activism remains inspiring. But as Earth Day comes and goes each year, we can’t just celebrate the past. The day must be a rallying cry for action in this present moment! This Earth Day, challenge yourself, your friends and your community to step up and make a change.
Want to get moving but don’t know where to start? Here are a just a few ways you can do something for the planet right now.
1. Take action for the climate.
Last December, world leaders met at the Paris climate summit and created an agreement – which many will sign on Earth Day – marking the beginning of the end for fossil fuels. But this agreement alone is not enough to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. It’s up to all of us (world leaders included) to take more action to keep coal, oil and gas in the ground and build a 100% renewable energy future.
2. Consume less.
Last year, people used 1.6 Earths worth of natural resources. Our fascination with throwaway packaging and plastic is harming wildlife, the ocean and maybe even ourselves. This Earth Day,pledge to simply use less stuff!
3. Be a picky eater.
Our food system is broken. Industrial agriculture is polluting water, destroying habitat and harming our health. The livestock sector alone contributes to climate change at least as much as all trucks, cars and planes combined! But you can fight back, starting in your own kitchen. Make a personal commitment to help change our food system – from starting a garden, to eating less (or no) meat.
4. Stand with traditional forest communities.
5. Slow down fast fashion.
Every piece of clothing we buy has an impact on our planet well before it enters our closet. Throwaway fashion sucks up water, uses huge amounts chemicals and encourages waste. But you can break this cycle. How? As fashion designer Vivienne Westwood advised, “Buy less, choose well, make it last.”
6. Get creative!
Art and activism go hand in hand. So make art that shows how you want the world to be! Already, over a thousand artists have contributed their own work to speak out against Arctic destruction.Check out their powerful works here, and add your own!
7. Believe in the power of people to make change.
In your city, in your neighbourhood, in your own life. This may be the most important lesson from the original Earth Day: Each of us has the power to make the world a little better.
This list just scratches the surface of the actions we can take for the planet. See something missing? Share it with us in the comments. And have a happy Earth Day!
Dawn Bickett is the content editor for Greenpeace in the Americas