Earth Day 2020

Hello and welcome to Siren’s Call on this special day, the 50th Earth Day! Half a century ago, the planet was in rough shape. Oil spills on a regular basis, overpowering smog, and horribly polluted rivers were just a few problems we experienced back then. In fact, there were reports of rivers being so polluted with toxic waste and garbage that they actually caught fire. We’re only supposed to see burning rivers in fantasies and renditions of Hell. My mother still remembers the Smog Alert days from when she lived in LA as a young kid. On those days, the air quality was so bad that’s students weren’t allowed to play outside at recess. People had enough and decided to speak out! On April 22, 1970, more than 20 million Americans−people from all walks of life−took to the streets and college campuses across the United States. They demanded that we as a people and as a government change how we treat our planet and to do it NOW! That first Earth Day, and all who participated, are credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The Clean Air, Clean Water, and the Endangered Species Acts—all vital pieces of legislation—were passed in direct response and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was born. Now, 50 years later, many other countries have joined us in passing similar environmental laws. And even in these difficult times, people from all over the world are joining together and doing what they can while trying to stay safe. For this Earth Day, I’ve decided to launch Siren’s Call as my ongoing project. Here, you can read daily postings of the ocean, its species, environments, processes, and more. I will also share ways in which you can help the environment. My goal is to make this blog a guilt free space. Not everyone can change their lives 100% to make it better for the environment. Believe me, I understand, because I can’t change my life 100% either. That’s why I plan to share the little ways you can help, and let you decide what’s comfortable, or best, for you. In the end, it’s better to have a thousand people do a bunch of little things than to have a hundred people do major things. There’s a surprising amount you can accomplish within the bounds of your own comfort in regard to your health, safety, economics, traditions, and values. The point of Earth Day and the environmental movement is that you do what you can, and not feel guilty about what you can’t. We’re in this together. What you can’t do someone else might be able to, and we achieve the greatest success when we see ourselves as a team.

Things you can do for Earth Day 2020

Here are some things you can do on Earth Day in your free time, even while staying at home.

Because of the worldwide pandemic, we can’t celebrate Earth Day in person together, but we can still do so virtually. The Earth Day website (https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2020/) features all sorts of resources. You can participate in virtual events, help to advocate for change, and even find creative ways to participate in citizen science.

You can also take a look at the Earth Day Ecochallenge (https://earthday.ecochallenge.org/). There you can find activities that you can do on Earth Day or continue doing afterward. They have resources that allow you to discover what’s feasible for you and to help you do those activities.

Both of these websites allow you to do things on your own or with other people, and they provide great information. I’m excited for any chance to participate in citizen science, which basically allows people to help gather information and data for scientists to use—it’s a great way to work together!

If you can’t do either of those things, for whatever reason, don’t sweat it! Here’s a list of other things you can do if you’re comfortable.

  1. Keep the lights off.

Try keeping all the lights off in your home during the day. If you need to use them because, for example, a room has no natural light source, then make sure you turn off the light every time you leave the room.

  • Spend time away from your phone.

Pick a set amount of time—it can be half an hour, hour, whole day, etc.—and turn off your phone. If your phone is turned off, then the battery isn’t draining, and you don’t need to expend energy to charge it.

  • Spend some time away from electronics.

For whatever amount of time, you choose, turn off your TV, video game systems, computers, etc. Unplug them if you wish. And then do something that doesn’t require electricity for that duration, such as taking a walk, reading a physical book, or writing a letter.

  • Do something outside

If you have the ability to do it safely, go outside. Pull some weeds. Organize the tool shed or the garage. Take a walk around the yard. Do some bird watching. The app iNaturalist (https://www.inaturalist.org/) allows you to identify and track birds and other living things, and it makes the information you collect available to scientists. I have been using the app since the New Year. The website even has a page for ways to explore nature from the safety of your home (http://www.inaturalist.org/blog/31664-exploring-nature-when-you-re-stuck-at-home)!

  • Make your meals in the house; don’t get anything delivered.

This one might be difficult, especially for people who want to help their local restaurants stay in business, but if you can abstain from obtaining food from outside your home this will help limit the carbon emissions put into the air today. Try making your own meals, and save the eating-out money for another day. If you don’t already possess the necessary ingredients, then please don’t feel obligated to try this idea.

These are just a few examples of the many things you can do to help our planet. If they are beyond your means or comfort zone, please don’t feel bad! This is a guilt free space, remember? If you come up with something else, do that instead, and share your ideas with your family, friends, and in the comment section below. Whatever level of Earth Day participation you’re comfortable with will earn a big thumbs-up from me! If you decide that these practices weren’t so bad, remember that you can do these anytime throughout the year.