What is Earth Day?
Earth Day is the World’s largest environmental movement. On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets across the United States to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. Earth day founder Gaylord Nelson was inspired to organize a national day to focus on the environment after witnessing the horrible damage of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California (still ranked as the largest oil spill in the waters off California and the third largest oil spill in United States history!). This first Earth Day brought together people of all backgrounds to fight for one common goal: the future of our plant and it sparked the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endagered Species Acts. In 1990 Earth Day went Global and today it has reached its current status as the largest non-religious observanve in the world – celebrated by more than a billion people in 192 countries each year!
Earth Day 2019: Protect our Species
Every year the Earth Day Network creates a campaign based on a specific environmental issue. This year they are asking us to take on the vital task to protect the earth’s endangered species and create world-wide awareness of the perils that will come along with the loss of these threatened species. All living things on this earthh play a unique role in our complex ecosystems – bees pollinate our plants which in turn create the oxygen we breathe, coral reefs are home to thousands of species of marine life, Elephants create habitats for smaller species, and whales recycle important nutrients for marine life – all of which are endangered!
We are amidst the largest period of species extinction in the last 60 million years. Normally, between one and five species will go extinct annually. However, scientists estimate that we are now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate, with multiple extinctions daily. Multiple species will disappear before we learn about them or the benefits they bring to our planet (source).
But don’t fret! There is still time to slow the rate of extinction and help our declining, threatened, and endangered species to recover. If the world joins together, just as our nation did almost 50 years ago, we can create a united movement of educated consumers, voters and leaders who will demand immediate action.
How can I help?
As a Girl Scout of Southeast Florida you have access to a number of different resources and programs to help you celebrate Earth Day everyday!
Participate in Earth Defenders
Last October we had thousands of Girl Scouts across South Florida participate in our Fall Council-wide Service Project, Earth Defenders! Troops could pick their own conservation efforts which included acitvities like:
- planting greenery to attract pollinators
- helping with wildlife conservation
- starting recycling programs
- participating in clean-ups
- building bat boxes
- helping with coral restoration
- learning about sustainable living
- participating in Save the Chimps enrichment programs
- working on ocean, energy and native plant conservation
- starting a compost
Gear up and start thinking about what you and your troop can do for this years Earth Defenders project!
Complete a Community Service Project with your Troop
You don’t need to wait untill October to start helping the environment. Think about an issue that means a lot to you and research it on your own or with your troop. Maybe you want to raise awareness for endangered species, clean up your local park or start a recycling program at your troops meeting place? Community service is encouraged all year-long and when it comes time to complete your Bronze, Silver or Gold Award project conservation and environmentalism are great places to start!
Explore a Girl Scout Journey
Every year our council hosts a signature event called Journey in a Day where Girl Scouts across South Florida can join us at Camp Nocatee to complete a whole Journey in just one day (a process that usually takes a troop weeks to plan and complete)! In 2018 we focused on the It’s Your Planet—Love It! Journey series which was packed with the latest information and girl-relevant environmental thinking. This year we are centered on the It’s Your World – Change It! Journey all about activism and how to be an advocate for what you believe in.
But you don’t need to wait for our annual Journey in a Day event to explore one of these awesome Journeys. You and your Troop or Service Unit can plan to complete one on your own using the resource guides provided by GSUSA.
The Earth Day Network also recommends:
- Take action to protect our species. Get the facts, then find out about personal steps you can take, from pledging to stop using pesticides to saving pollinators to using safer sunscreen to protect coral.
- Clean up your community. Find a clean up near you or submit one you’re hosting.
- Share these educational resources with parents and teachers — including Earth Day teaching materials, Climate Education Week teaching materials, and more.
- Help end plastic pollution. Start by using their plastic calculator to help track, then reduce, your plastic waste.
- Plant a tree: Support tree-planting efforts across the globe.
- Take steps to reduce your carbon footprint with their climate action guide.
And remember to celebrate Earth Day Everyday! Although it’s great to rally around a central issue to raise awareness there are so many things that we can do in our daily lives and all year-long to keep our planet clean, healthy and preserved for future generations!