Sunday marks the anniversary of an event that changed a lot.
By Alan Bauer
Earth Day turns 48 years old Sunday. It has been quite the success.
The first Earth Day was a purely American event, with, according to the Earth Day Network, millions of Americans rallying on behalf of environmental causes.
Then Earth Day grew — both in numbers and impact. This year, an estimated 1 billion people in almost 200 countries will participate in Earth Day activities.
Following the first Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency was established and legislation such as the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act were passed as attention was placed on everything from smog to hazardous waste during the 1970s.
More importantly, a single day has become part of our everyday lives. From recycling to finding alternative means of transportation to passing laws and tax incentives, protecting the environment has been integrated into our lives.
Think about how differently we act these days. People toss paper and plastic into a separate collection container. Purchases ranging from reusable water bottles to eco-friendly automobiles often are made with environmental impact in mind. Children are being raised in a world where protecting Mother Nature is not only noble, but just a part of what they do on a daily basis.
There will be dozens of Earth Day festivities around South Jersey this weekend. Trees will be given out. Crafters will show people how to make things out of recycled or repurposed material. Events will promote this year’s national theme to “End Plastic Pollution.” The spotlight once again will be the environment.
But the great thing is that many, if not most, of the planet-friendly activities taking place this weekend will lead to ongoing efforts to protect the environment. Earth Day no longer is a one-off, singular event. It’s a reminder to continue the focus on protecting the planet every day.