Earth Day, A Brief History
1900-1960s | In the years leading up to the first Earth Day, anthropogenic pollution was at an all-time high during the zenith of industrialization. Americans consumed leaded gas for wildly inefficient vehicles. More factories were popping up across the country and emitted massive plumes of smoke and sludge. Cities across the globe experienced living through toxic, thick smog conditions that lasted days. There was no one to check people, businesses, and industries on their consumption or emissions. Most Americans lived in ignorant bliss of how devastating the effects of pollution had on our ecosystems and public health.
Not until the middle of the century, people growingly became aware of how harmful industrialization was for our planet. In 1962, bestselling author Rachel Carson published Silent Spring which illustrated how pesticides at the time were unhealthy for crops and public health. The bestselling book sold over 500,000 copies in 24 countries (earthday.org).
1970 | Inspired by the zeal of student-led anti-war protests, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin wanted to push environmental issues to the forefront of the national agenda. Senator Nelson came up with the idea of organizing teach-ins across the country to protest anthropogenic sources of pollution and advocate for environmental protection. Thus on April 22nd, 1970, the first-ever Earth Day was founded with thousands of colleges and universities across the country participating in. The teach-ins were so successful in spreading awareness and addressing public concern that it gained rare unanimity between Democratic and Republican congressmen to create environmental protection laws. By the end 1970, Congress created the United States Environmental Protection Agency and passed several influential environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act of 1970 (earthday.org).
Earth Day 2022 “Invest In Our Planet”
52 years later today, the theme of Earth Day 2022 is to “Invest in our Planet”. According to earthday.org, the Earth Day movement is “focused on engaging more than 1 billion people, governments, institutions, and businesses who participate in Earth Day to recognize our collective responsibility and to help accelerate the transition to an equitable, prosperous green economy for all.” By working together at the individual, business, and government level, we can achieve so much to conserve our planet.
Knowing where and how your food ingredients are produced can help inform and drastically limit your carbon “foodprint”. Cattle (including beef, dairy, and non-edible outputs) accounts for 65% of all livestock greenhouse gas emissions. On average, the greenhouse gas impact of getting 50 grams of protein from beef is equal to 17.7 kilograms. Mentionly, other red meats like lamb and even farmed shrimp are big sources of pollution and environmental degradation. Omitting, or even reducing your intake of some of these products can significantly help reduce our collective greenhouse gas emissions. Rather than purchasing from environmentally unsustainable industries, opt to change your diet to include more alternative sources of protein and responsibly-grown produce.
Business Level | Partnerships that Help Achieve Sustainable Goals
Businesses, large and small, hold massive potential to drive significant change. At Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates, we:
- Stay out of animal agriculture and source only 100% vegan ingredients and end product
- Stand against deforestation via partnership with Rainforest Alliance to certify our cocoa
- Pay premium prices to opt for recycled content
- Support organic farming practices that protect soil biodiversity
At Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates, we know change is a journey and must continue to improve our own practices. We pledge for the future to:
- Minimize packaging waste
- Source more recyclable packaging
Government Level | Contact Your Representatives
Encourage your representatives to act now. One of the most impactful ways today to promote economic and ecological prosperity is for the government to utilize incentives for residents and businesses to make greener choices. You can search for your representative here and look up their office’s public contact information. Contact them about your ideas, research, and raise concern on different ways the government can intervene to make our communities more efficient and sustainable.
At Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates, we are excited to be a part of the Earth Day movement. All actions, big and small, can help. Earth Day illustrates to us that just one action or call for change, from changing your diet to protesting pollution at college teach-ins, can help us conserve our home planet.
For more ideas, read more about the 52 tips to fight climate change. Let us know in the comments, which are your favorite strategies for combating climate change and pollution.
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by Nina Kitapan, Contributor
“Earth Day 2022: Invest in Our Planet™.” Earth Day, 19 Apr. 2022, https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2022/.
“EPA History: Earth Day.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/history/epa-history-earth-day.
Heller, Martin C., and Gregory A. Keoleian. “Greenhouse Gas Emission Estimates of U.S. Dietary Choices and Food Loss.” Journal of Industrial Ecology, vol. 19, no. 3, 2014, pp. 391–401., https://doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12174.
History.com Editors. “Earth Day 2022.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 27 Oct. 2009, https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/earth-day.
“Key Facts and Findings.” FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, https://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/197623/icode/.
Moskin, Julia, et al. “Your Questions about Food and Climate Change, Answered.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 30 Apr. 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/dining/climate-change-food-eating-habits.html#meat.
“Summary of the Clean Air Act.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-clean-air-act.