- Editor’s Note: The COVID-19 pandemic has diverted time and resources away from many projects that are near and dear to our hearts. Among them is the annual “Countdown To Earth Day” series put together by Jessica Mino, resources manager for the Kane County Division of Environmental and Water Resources. The countdown series is an annual labor of love that typically starts April 1 and includes an article a day through April 22. Due to the COVID-19 emergency, we’ve pared it down to this one story on Earth Day’s 50th anniversary. We promise there will be many more articles and many more days to celebrate our environment here in Kane County, IL.
Right now, nature is our solace — a safe place to be active and source of rejuvenation. We are feeling the importance of having fresh air, clean soil, and safe water accessible to all. Let’s show our appreciation by giving back on Earth Day and every day.
We are celebrating 50 years of Earth Day this year! And it is time to reflect on what kind of world we want to be working toward.
Earth Day was founded in 1970 by U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin.
The public was becoming increasingly concerned with pollution and public health and how those issues connected to our treatment of the environment.
As this environmental movement began, Earth Day provided a unified voice to create awareness for environmental issues and inspire action.
Where have we come and where are we going?
The first Earth Day led to many historical laws that protect our vital resources and public well-being today.
Clean Air Act: Set to achieve National Ambient Air Quality Standards in every state that protect public welfare from risks posed by widespread air pollutants.
- Clean Water Act: Established the basic structure for managing pollutant discharges into United States waters, with the goal of achieving fishable and swimmable waters.
- Endangered Species Act: Protects endangered and threatened species as well as their critical habitat.
These outcomes made incredible strides forward for the environment around us and the well-being of Americans.
Today, more than 1 billion people mobilize for action every Earth Day in over 190 countries around the world.
We have worked so hard to make sure we can enjoy and continue to benefit from the our natural world. We cannot forget the state we came from or lose focus of what we still need to be working toward simply because our immediate surroundings have improved. More so, this is evidence that we should continue striving for a sustainable future, as we have seen the impact we can have (positive or negative).
Some of our greatest environment challenges remain:
- Climate Change
- Biodiversity Loss
All things that each individual can have an impact on.
How Can One Person Help?
- Reconsider transportation: bike and walk as much as possible and move toward electric vehicles;
- Invest in renewable energy, like solar power;
- Evaluate your energy efficiency;
- Support community efforts to tackle climate change, like the Chicago Regional Climate Action Plan and the Clean Energy Jobs Act; and
- Buy local and reduce meat consumption.
The list goes on! There are a lot of ways we can reduce our emissions. You can start by assessing your emissions with the carbon calculator.
- Appreciate and support natural, connected habitat like the Kane County Forest Preserves;
- Plant natives: forbes, grasses, and trees included. The food and shelter these provide bring beneficial insects… and wildlife up the food chain benefits!
- Minimize or eliminate the use of pesticides that inadvertently kill off beneficial creatures in addition to the pests you may be targeting.
- Start in your own back yard by reducing fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides;
- Minimize the use of road salt in the winter, another common pollutant;
Reduce overall stormwater runoff (keep the rain where it falls) with porous pavers, rain gardens, and rain barrels;
- Produce less waste (of all kinds) — Move toward reusables (especially to minimize plastics), only consume what you need, and compost food scrapes and yard waste; and
- Properly dispose of other waste, specifically hazardous household waste.
Of course, there is so much more we can do. This is your time to get creative!
Particularly while we are not gathering with family and friends, share your ideas on social media and get others involved virtually.
With encouragement and continuous conversation about what a sustainable future looks like, we can ignite optimism in others and work toward positive action.
Join Earth Day Live on April 22 to hear how you can contribute:
“We can make a better world for everyone … Join us at earthday.org as we flood the world with messages of hope, optimism and, above all — action.”
Together, we can care for the environment, enhance social equity, and leave a world we are proud of for future generations – what Earth Day is all about.
Don’t forget to carry these habits through the rest of 2020 to care for our environment and community on Earth Day and every day.
Read The 2019 Countdown to Earth Day Series!
- No. 16: Introduction to Earth Day — Let’s Focus on Working Together! (Jessica Mino)
- No. 15: Stop Volcano Mulching! It Does More Harm Than Good! (Valerie Blaine)
- No. 14: Slow Down! We’ve Got Turtles Crossing Here! (Pam Otto)
- No. 13: Check Out Kane County’s Not-So-Secret, Totally Awesome Sustainable Transportation (Ryan Peterson and Troy Simpson)
- No. 12: Fires Erupting All Over Kane County This April (Rob Linke)
- No. 11: How To Inspire Your Kids To Love Their River (Meghan Yancey and Jenni Schiavone)
- No. 10: New Incentives Could Get You 60% Off Solar Installation (Christina Uzzo)
- No. 9: Kane Makes History — First Illinois County To Adopt Greenest Region Compact (Jessica Mino)
- No. 8: Easter Recycling! What To Do With Egg Cartons And Candy Wrappers (Jennifer Jarland)
- No. 7: Help Keep The Crud Out Of Stormsewers (Anne Wilford)
- No. 6: Recycling Plastics — What’s a ‘Tub,’ And How Do I Recycling It? (Jennifer Jarland)
- No. 5: Why Recycling Alone Can’t Fix Plastics Problem (Jessica Mino)
- No. 4: Freebies! Discounts! Rebates! Plenty of Incentives To ‘Go Green’ in 2019 (Karen Miller)
- No. 3: How To Enjoy an Eco-Friendly Easter (Jessica Mino)
- No. 2: Take The Next Step Toward Sustainability (Jessica Mino)
- No. 1: An Earth Day Recap