On Sunday, April 22, the earth marked the passage of another Earth Day.
The first Earth Day was held in April 1970, but the holiday didn’t truly go global until the 1990s. And while this holiday used to pass with some fanfare, interest in the holiday is steadily declining. In fact, Earth Day passed without many people even realizing it this year.
So did anyone really celebrate Earth Day 2018? In point of fact, yes.
For one, NASA shared posters and photos of the Earth, as viewed from space, on an Earth Day website. Brands also got in on the action, with companies like Whole Foods and Staples offering free stuff to earth-conscious customers.
This grassroots event started back in 1970 when 20 million Americans hit the streets to voice their concerns about the deteriorating environment as well as to urge lawmakers to take action.
Today, more than 50,000 partners in 195 countries are a part of the Earth Day Network (EDN). Earth Day 2018 was dedicated to plastic pollution, which is the most significant environmental problem our planet is facing today. In fact, more than 600 billion pounds of plastic are made and consumed every year, and this market is still growing by 5% annually.
Unfortunately, only 12% of plastic worldwide gets recycled. That’s in part why Earth Day 2018 was dedicated to plastic cleanup.
The group Rethinking Plastic Sarasota went to Shelby Five Points Park in downtown Sarasota to warn citizens about the use of the “Bad 5.” The Bad 5 refers to plastic items that are polluting the earth. The list includes plastic bags, plastic utensils, plastic bottles, to-go cups, and to-go containers.
“We want to educate the community, representatives, and businesses about single use plastics and how bad they are for the environment and our bodies,” group representative Jana Hoefling said.
Another big topic that was brought up this past Earth Day was solar energy. As of mid-2017, America has a total solar power capacity of 47.1 gigawatts, which is enough energy to power 9.1 million homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. It is no question that solar power is much better for the planet.
Thomas Naro, the Executive Director of the Southampton Fresh Air Home, received an anonymous donation of $100,000 so the camp for physically challenged children could install 168 solar panels on the property. Those panels generate enough power for about six buildings at the camp, including four dormitories. With the new panels, they expect to save $13,500 annually in electricity costs.
“This is something that we are proud to have been able to do,” Naro said. “This is something that everybody should be looking into. I look at this as a badge of honor and as a teaching opportunity for children during the summer—it sets a good example for everybody who visits the home.”
Installing solar panels has been a desire held by Naro since 2009, and his dreams were finally realized when the six-month installation process ended this January for the new solar panels thanks to the anonymous donation. Naro also stated that he wants to find other ways to reduce the camp’s carbon footprint, say specifically that he wants to reduce plastic usage on campus.
“People have been very, very excited,” he said. “The board has been extremely supportive of the project since the start, and I think they are thrilled with the results. In general, environmental sustainability is very important for all of us, so I am proud the Fresh Air Home had this opportunity.”
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