Born in the aftermath of a massive oil spill off the California coast in 1970, Earth Day can seem as relevant now as it did during the heyday of the hippies, especially when viewed through the prism of recent events. And while environmentalism can sometimes get tangled up in the heated rhetoric of today's political scene, it's important to remember that lots of individuals acting on their own -- and often in their own self interest -- can enact more change than any government or agency. That's something that the Earth Day Network is driving home this Earth Day through its A Billion Acts of Green campaign.
Getting into the act
A Billion Acts of Green seeks to inspire individuals to commit to acts of environmental responsibility. You can choose to sign on to a pledge made by someone else or create your own pledge. Pledges cover the spectrum from getting involved in conservation and sustainability efforts locally, nationally, or internationally to simple acts like eating more locally grown food, using reusable grocery bags or replacing your light bulbs with ones that are more energy efficient; if that last idea sounds good to you, our report on light bulbs has information on some energy-saving choices, and this blog post has additional information on current and emerging light-bulb technologies.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also getting into the act via an international campaign called Pick5 for the Environment. In cooperation with the U.S. Department of State, the program asks individuals to pick 5 actions that help the environment, and to share their efforts with others via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Flickr. An interactive map on the site shows you how many in your own community have signed on with the program. Many of the actions are simple things that you probably are already doing without even thinking about them. Examples include recycling plastic, paper, and metal; opting for public transportation; buying Energy Star rated appliances where possible; and the like, though a few ask for greater activism, like establishing a "green award" in your community.
Another of the EPA's Pick5 ideas is to participate in a local environmental festival or event. This Earth Day, and beyond, there are plenty of those to choose from. A list of what's available can be found at the web sites of the EPA and the Earth Day Network. There are tons and tons of festivals and fairs, of course, along with some more serious and esoteric goings on. Examples include community clean ups, neighborhood energy-savings challenges, light-bulb exchange programs, recycling events, and much more.