Earth Day is April 22. Each year, Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
Today, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more chapters—struggles and victories—into the Earth Day book.
2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. In honor of this milestone, Earth Day Network is launching an ambitious set of goals to shape the future of 21st century environmentalism.
Fewer miles driven means fewer emissions.
- Walk or bike when you can.
- Use the bike-share programs if your city or town has them.
- Take public transit when possible.
- Carpool with friends instead of driving alone.
- Use ride-sharing services.
- Plan ahead to make the most of your trips and “trip chain.” If your grocery store is near other places you need to visit, do it all at once.
- Work from home periodically if your job allows it.
The way we drive can reduce emissions from our vehicles.
- Drive efficiently – go easy on the gas pedal and brakes.
- Maintain your car – get regular tune-ups, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, and use the recommended motor oil.
Choose Fuel Efficient Vehicles
When shopping for a new car, look for fuel efficient vehicles with low greenhouse gas emissions. These cars can help the environment while potentially saving you money on fuel costs at the pump. Follow these tips:
1. Use EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide to learn about vehicles that are more efficient and less polluting, including:
- Electric vehicles;
- Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles;
- Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; and
- Cleaner burning gasoline vehicles.
2. Use the EPA’s Fuel Economy and Environment Label to compare different vehicle models and find the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vehicle that meets your needs. This information is also available on the joint DOE and EPA website fuel economy.gov.
Unnecessary idling of cars, trucks, and school buses pollutes the air, wastes fuel, and causes excess engine wear. Modern vehicles do not require “warming up” in the winter, so there is no need to turn on the engine until you are ready to drive.
Reducing idling from diesel school buses prevents children from being exposed to diesel exhaust, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and saves money on fuel. EPA’s Clean School Bus Program includes information and resources that can help you reduce school bus idling in your community.
Optimize Home Deliveries
When getting home deliveries or shopping online, consider asking to have all your packages sent in one shipment and with minimal packaging. For scheduled home deliveries, try to be flexible by choosing longer time windows so delivery trucks can optimize their routes and avoid extra trips.
Use Efficient Lawn and Gardening Equipment
Gas-powered engines in lawn and garden equipment emit significant amounts of pollutants.
- Use a manual (reel) mower for small lawns.
- When shopping for mowers and garden equipment, look for new technologies such as electric and battery-powered machines that are quieter and pollute less than gas-powered ones.
- Properly maintain lawn and garden equipment – tune mowers and change the oil as needed.
- If you are purchasing commercial grade landscaping machinery, a number of products are now available with advanced emissions reduction technologies including catalysts and electronic fuel injection that result in significantly less pollution.
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