Celebrate this Earth Day in new and old ways

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The conception of Earth Day was literally a grassroots affair. Engaged American citizens concerned about the future of their planet declared an annual holiday called Earth Day, intent on sending a clear message to their nation’s political leadership that they expected legislative action and environmental change. Credited with launching the “Environmental decade” with a bang – Earth Day cemented a conservation crusade that affected real legislative progress, as the resulting Superfund law of 1980 cleaned up some of the nation’s most contaminated areas. In spite of impressive environmental activism, modern society’s relationship with the Earth is still very much strained. According to the activist group EcoCycle, in the past 50 years we’ve consumed more natural resources than in all previous history combined.

In an age of inflation, technological takeover and international conflict, it’s easy to deprioritize preserving the planet in the face of what appear to be far more pressing issues. But Earth Day’s annual return reminds us not to lose sight of preserving Earth’s beauty and value, awakening us to all the ways it sustains us. Fortunately, showing green gratitude and doing green good deeds are activities where the more you give the more you get, and time outdoors is almost always time well-spent. Connecting to the earth, whether through preservation efforts or just the sheer enjoyment of it, always offers the opportunity to absorb its peace and tranquility.

So in honor of the holiday’s humble beginnings, here are a few everyday ways to affect environmental change in your little corner of the world. This Earth Day, not only will you help the planet, you just might realize new reasons to love it.

1. A crafty way to put less in the landfill
If you’ve got an artsy thumb in addition to your green one, here’s a great activity reusing two items that often end up in the landfill – plastic water bottles and old newspaper. Reduce your waste and create unique art all at once by making a beautiful paper mache vase to hold fresh flowers from your garden.

DIY Pretty Mache Vases

  • Cover plastic drinking bottles with several layers of strips of newspaper dipped in liquid starch (or a watered down glue or flour mixture)..
  • Paint the bottle with acrylic paints and a coat of Modge Podge, then allow ample time to dry.
  • Decorate them with yarn, beads, buttons, or glass beads – get creative!
  • Your new vases are waterproof so they can be used to display fresh, dried or silk flowers. Enjoy!

2. Turning more trash into treasure
If you’re a gardener and you’ve never heard of composting, here’s some good news: not only does it reduce the amount of waste you produce, it also transforms earth-based waste into a product for gardening, landscaping and tending house plants. Make a homemade composter by routinely adding natural waste into large, old garden pots on a daily basis. Stir to help break things down. In a few months you’ll have a fertilizer supplement that you can spread all over the garden as you watch “garbage” become rich dark dirt that makes your garden grow.

3. Revive the fundamental spirit of Earth Day by getting back to its roots
Honor those who envisioned Earth Day by awakening your own inner-activist. Write letters to policymakers and corporations about key environmental issues. Research which issues impact your local community most, and do what you can do to make a difference for planet Earth.

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