Since we're on the topic of Earth Day, did you know how it started? Do you know why it's celebrated on April 22? Here are a few quick facts about the holiday:
- Earth Day was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin.
- Senator Nelson started Earth Day as a single, one-day, mass demonstration to bring national attention to the environment.
- On the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, approximately 20 million Americans took part in demonstrations.
- In the wake of the first Earth Day, the U.S. saw the passage of the Clean Air Act as well as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
- The first Earth Day was set for April 22 because it didn't conflict with the schedules of college students, who Nelson knew would be the main group involved in the demonstrations. In 1970, April 22 didn't conflict with Spring Break, Easter, Passover, or college exams, and the weather would probably be decent.
- Some people claimed Earth Day was a communist trick because April 22 also happens to be the birthday of Vladimir Lenin.
- It also happens that April 22 is the birthday of St. Francis of Assisi, probably the first "environmentalist." However, neither man's birthday in any way figured into the scheduling of the date.
- Earth Day is now celebrated on April 22nd of each year by over 175 countries.
Celebrate Earth Day by Greening Your Garden
If you are not already an organic gardener, this is the perfect time to start. Here are some simple ways to get going:
- Start Composting
Stop sending your kitchen and garden waste to the landfill and compost it instead. Not only will you lessen the burden on our landfills, but you will end up with the world's best soil amendment. And you won't have to spend a penny to get going. If you don't have a compost bin, or any of the materials to construct one, a compost pile can be just that--a pile in a corner of your property.
- Find Better Ways to Deal with Pests and Diseases
As a society, we've been conditioned during the last 50 years or so to reach for some store-bought, chemical "magic potion" to help us get rid of pests and diseases in the garden. In fact, if we take the time to learn a little about what we're dealing with, pest and disease issues can be solved without reaching for harmful chemicals. The same goes for weed control.
- Conserve Water
There are many simple ways to conserve water in your garden. Direct water to the root zone, rather than spraying from above (this not only saves water, but helps avoid fungal issues as well!) Use mulch to help regulate soil moisture and temperature. Consider planting drought-tolerant and native plants in your landscape.
- Practice Organic Lawn Maintenance
Lawns are one of the top villains in our landscapes, environmentally speaking, because of all of the chemicals people use to keep them green and weed- and pest-free. When you add in all of the water they require, plus the pollution from all of the mowing and "weed whacking" we do, it's no surprise that we can do quite a bit to reduce our impact just by changing our lawn care practices.
- Plant a Tree
Trees, of course, help clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen, but a well-placed tree can also lower your cooling bills by shading your house. And, if your garden bakes in the sun all day, a bit of shade might be just what you need!
We can all do our part to make our planet a little healthier. While large-scale changes are definitely needed in areas such as clean energy and sustainable agriculture, small actions are nothing to sneeze at. Remember, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
Happy Earth Day!
Photo by bjearwicke at stock.xchng