Earth Day is approaching, April 22. We are asking for your stories about what you love about nature and this earth we all share.

Celebrate Earth Day, April 22, 2024

Apr 22 2024

Earth Day on April 22nd

Having a day focused on our natural world has always made me feel hopeful. I hope that perhaps we will all be reminded of how wonderful all the delightful messiness of our natural world really is. Wandering through the woods and there in the middle of a spread of rotting leaves, some broken sticks, lichen, mushrooms and mossy thick soil, is a bit of a jack-in-the-pulpit poking its brave and beautiful little pointy head out towards the sun. And then hugging the base of a tree is a huge wad of Hen of the Woods mushrooms, as big around as an actual hen. These are around $25 per pound in the market - so much more than an actual hen - and here they are just growing in the dirt. Brushy green thickets of thorny vines - brambles requiring a machete to penetrate - tangled and unruly but bearing scads of berries for birds and bears and maybe us if we are clever enough to find them. The skies are a show every day of dazzling clouds and are never the same but always a spectacular wonder. Critters slither and scamper and soar and make all sorts of shrieks and songs and whistles and all of it is a chaotic mess of perfect order which we humans are perilously tipping into disarray.

Earth Day. Earth needs its day. It actually needs every day. It needs us to focus our attention every day on saving this glorious chaotic messiness that is the natural order of things. And we have been celebrating Earth Day since 1970 and yet we are inching closer and closer to existential peril. Granted, in 1970, things were pretty bad. The Cuyahoga River in Ohio was so polluted it caught fire 1969. It had been horribly polluted for decades and had actually caught fire at least 10 times, but this fire in 1969 caught peoples’ attention. The country was waking up to the price it was paying for decades of industrialization. Pittsburgh was covered in soot, rivers all over the country were polluted and factories were spewing garbage into the air. In December 1970 the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration was established and the Clean Air Act was also enacted in 1970 followed by the Clean Water Act in 1972. And our air and water is cleaner. Efforts have been made but the earth is warming, oceans are warming and rising and clotted with plastic, animals are facing extinction.

Earth Day 2024, fifty-two years after the first Earth Day and great Federal efforts to tend to our natural world, and we are still facing enormous hurdles to save the earth, the polar bears, coral reefs, ice caps, coastal areas, insects and birds. Humans are struggling with drought and floods and disastrous storms.

I went to that first Earth Day in 1970, in Washington, D.C. We skipped school and rode to National Mall on our bicycles and sang, “All You Need Is Love,” and believed that this day would be a turning point in our environmental crisis. It was, but not enough. The earth needs our help. We are its stewards. There are lots of Earth Day activities in every town across the world on Earth Day and we need to step up.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists the following ways every one of us can help take care of the earth every day:

Lower Your Carbon Footprint

  • Bike or walk

  • Carpool or take public transportation

  • Choose an energy efficient vehicle

  • Make fewer trips by grouping your errands

  • Drive smart: go easy on the brakes and gas, use cruise control, and keep your car well-maintained

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

  • Reuse or repurpose containers, clothing and cloth grocery bags

  • Give clothes a second life by donating or buying used

  • Know what items your local recycling programs collects, and what items are recyclable

Be H2O Smart

  • Repair leaky faucets and replace old equipment like toilets and dishwashers when possible

  • Turn off the water to brush teeth and shave

  • Run full loads of laundry and dishes

  • Collect rainwater to use in your garden

Feed People, not Landfills

  • Check your refrigerator, pantry, and freezer before shopping to avoid buying foods you don't need

  • Plan your meals for the week before heading to the store

  • Properly store fruits and vegetables so they last longer

  • Befriend your freezer and leftovers

Here are 5 other easy Earth Day Activities each of us can do on Earth Day and every day:

  • Reach out to elected officials to tell them we want stronger action on climate change.

  • Vote for officials who pledge to work for stronger action on climate change.

  • Use and advocate for renewable fuels.

  • Eat less meat and dairy.

  • Advocate for and use less plastic.

And here is our last suggestion for an Earth Day activity: write a love letter to Mother Earth. Take a few minutes to honor Earth Day by writing a few paragraphs about what you love about the earth: your back yard, the birds you hear, the sky, thunderstorms, the ocean, rocks, mountains, snow. You can add photos too! Whatever it is that you love about the earth, share that here in a story on History Chip. Your stories matter. They really do!

Jean McGavin

Founder, History Chip