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Earth Day

Our planet is an amazing place, but it needs our help to thrive! That’s why each year on April 22, more than a billion people celebrate Earth Day.

 

Earth Day is a time to come together and support our environment’s protection from things like pollution and deforestation. By taking part in activities like picking up litter and planting trees, we’re making our world a happier, healthier place to live.

GLOBAL GUARDIANS

The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, when a United States senator from Wisconsin organized a national demonstration to raise awareness about environmental issues. Rallies took place across the country and, by the end of the year, the U.S. government had created the Environmental Protection Agency. By 1990, Earth Day was an event celebrated by more than 140 countries around the globe.

 

Earth Day is a chance to consider how your actions impact the planet and think about what steps you can take to help make our environment better. Here are some examples of ways to make a positive change.

PLEDGE TO BECOME A WASTE WARRIOR. The number of garbage trucks Americans fill each year would stretch halfway to the moon. Toilet paper tubes, made from cardboard, take two months to decompose in a landfill. A plastic bottle sticks around for way longer—it can take over 450 years to break down! But instead of turning to the trash bin, you could turn these items into an awesome telescope or a flower planter. Before you throw something away, think about whether it can be recycled or repurposed. You can also limit waste by reducing the amount of things you buy. For example, check the library for that book you have to read before visiting the store.

 

PLANT A TREE IN YOUR COMMUNITY. Researchers estimate roughly 15 billion trees in the world are cut down each year so help offset that loss by planting a tree of your own. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen for people to breathe. They also provide shelter and food for animals such as squirrels and owls. Depending on where they’re planted, the shade from trees can even reduce the need for air conditioning in hotter months. How many more reasons do you need to go green?

 

TURN OFF THE LIGHTS. Does that lamp really need to be on while the sun is out? Electricity doesn’t just happen—it has to be produced from things around us. A lot of times it comes from fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, or natural gas) that will eventually run out. But electricity can also be made from renewable sources like wind, water, the sun, and even elephant dung! No matter where it’s coming from, try conserving electrical energy by using only what you need.

 

LIMIT YOUR WATER USAGE. It might seem like it’s everywhere, but clean, drinkable water is a limited resource. In fact less than one percent of the water on Earth can be used by humans. (The rest is either too salty or too difficult to access.) Turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth can conserve up to eight gallons of water a day. To help save even more H20, challenge yourself to take a shorter shower (but still get clean!).

 

OFFER YOUR TIME. With a parent’s permission, volunteer to pick up trash at a nearby park, start a collection drive for recyclable items, or organize a screening of an environmentally themed movie. By getting involved and working with others, you’re not just helping the Earth—you’re making new friends too!

 

SPREAD THE MESSAGE. Talk to your friends and family members about what you’re doing and ask them to help. Need to get the conversation started? Get everyone together and reconnect with nature by taking one of our Get Outside challenges, or check out some other green tips you can share. The more people do, the better off our planet will be!

 

 

Text by Rose Davidson, National Geographic Staff

 

FUN FACTS

 

Recycling one can of soda will save enough energy to power a TV for three hours.

 

In its lifetime, one reusable bag can prevent the use of 600 plastic bags.

 

Shutting down a computer when it’s not in use cuts the energy consumption by 85 percent.

 

For every mile walked instead of driven, nearly one pound of pollution is kept out of the air.

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