On April 22, 1970, millions of people in the U.S. took to the streets to call for action on the environmental issues of the time. It was the first time society took part in pro-Earth demonstrations, and this event led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and environmental laws, such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
The movement started spreading across the world in the 1990s, as global ecological awareness grew. Today, over 1 billion people from 192 countries join in annually, which makes it the largest civic observance in the world.
Why do we celebrate Earth Day?
There is an undeniable connection between nature and all living beings; Earth is our home! We celebrate Earth Day as a reminder of the importance of maintaining a harmonious relationship with our planet and with nature, and it gives us a chance to bring awareness to important environmental issues and inspire change.
Earth Day 2019
This year's theme is "Protect Our Species." Human beings have irrevocably altered the balance in nature by destroying and reducing plant and wildlife population. This has happened by deforestation, pollution, poaching, and more—all without acknowledging the value and unique role of each and every living being.
We are now dealing with an alarming rate of extinction, and we must work hard to protect endangered species. Bees, elephants, giraffes, whales, and coral reefs play an essential role in the survival of the ecosystem and therefore in our survival.
Although this might sound discouraging, the good news is we can still do so much to help. Every big change starts small, and if we work together as a global collective, we will be able to make a difference.
How to give back
1. Do your research: Keep yourself informed; information leads to better decisions.
2. Spread the word: The more people who are aware, the more people can take action.
3. Encourage individual and group actions for the environment and wildlife
We've also compiled a list of ways for you to support the environment in your day-to-day life:
- Plant flowers, trees, and gardens
- Collect trash from beaches and nature reserves
- Recycle and avoid single-use plastics
- Avoid making outdoor fires
- Use detergents, soaps, and cleaning products that are biodegradable and eco-friendly
- Adopt a plant-based diet
- Grow your own food or buy locally-grown food
- Walk or cycle more
- Respect protected areas
- Avoid touristic activities that support animal exploitation
- Report hurt or sick animals to the authorities, as well as illegal trade
- Abstain from buying products made with endangered species or parts of them (fur, leather, ivory, etc.)
- Use cruelty-free products (not tested on animals)
- Support sustainable fishing
- Use oxybenzone-free sunscreens
- Petition the government for better laws
- Support local NGOs and volunteer
- Travel green (accommodations with minimal carbon footprint)
Where to volunteer
Volunteering is one of the best ways to give back, and there are many great projects going on across the U.S, Canada, and the rest of the world. We've compiled a selection below where your helping hands, hearts, and minds are needed.
U.S and Canada
Wild West Wildlife is a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in the Texas Panhandle.
Marine Animal Rescue Society is dedicated to the conservation of marine animals in South Florida.
Last Chance for Animals is a Los Angeles-based non-profit dedicated to eliminating animal exploitation, with a variety of campaigns from banning live export and puppy mills to supporting veganism.
Earth Law Center is a New York-based non-profit that works to transform the law to recognize and protect nature's inherent rights to exist, thrive, and evolve.
Wildlife Rescueis an organization that aims to save wild animals through its network of rehabilitators and wildlife rescue centers across Ontario.
Nature Conservancy Canada is a non-profit that focuses on conserving natural areas and biological diversity all across Canada.
Rest of the world
Volunteering in places like Costa Rica, Thailand, or South Africa sounds appealing, but having so many options to choose from can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are companies that can help you arrange everything and guide you through the process.
International Volunteer HQ works with wildlife and environmental conservation organizations on all five continents and offers a great range of affordable volunteering programs, including eco-agricultural and marine conservation, as well as animal welfare and animal rights.
GoEco is an eco-tourism company that provides a varied selection of volunteer projects abroad. Whether you want to volunteer for animal conservation or teaching, they will find the perfect fit for you.
Go Overseas offers wildlife and rainforest conservation programs all over the world that are both enriching and life-changing experiences.