Saturday, April 22 is Earth Day, 2023—How will you participate?

Did you know that Earth Day is marked by more than a billion people a year? Yes, a billion! The official Earth Day website says that “Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked every year as a day of action to change human behaviour and create global, national and local policy change.”

People with placards and posters on global strike for climate change

When did this annual event begin? In 1970, there were no legal mechanisms in the United States to protect the environment—no Clean Air Act, no Clean Water Act. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, when a United States senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, 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 (EPA). By 1990, Earth Day was an event celebrated by more than 140 countries around the globe.

Today, as Earth Day approaches, people in some 193 countries around the planet are planning to show their support for the environment through a variety of activities, from cleanups to planting trees to making a decision about cutting personal greenhouse gas emissions.

This year’s Earth Day theme is “Invest in our Planet.” The theme is designed to persuade businesses, governments and citizens around the world of the need to invest in our planet to improve our environment and give our descendants a better and safer future.

With Orillia’s own climate change action plan set to kick in in 2023, there is no better time for Orillia residents to consider how they, too, can “invest” in creating a better future. The Three Big Moves in Orillia’s Climate Future urge us to invest in renewable energy, invest in alternate forms of transportation (an EV, an E-bike, transit, and yes, walking), and invest in making our buildings more energy-efficient.

There are, however, other ways to “invest” in the planet. Invest your time by volunteering for one of many organizations that are working toward more sustainable practices in our daily life and work (Sustainable Orillia, anyone?). Invest your sweat by going out on Earth Day (or any

day) and helping to clean up the neighbourhood or a local waterway. Invest your time and money in purchasing and planting trees and local pollinating plants as you prepare for spring gardening.

Are you an artist? Invest your talent in creating art that can play a part in capturing the public’s imagination, helping to spread the message of environmental urgency. Are you a teacher? Talk to your classes about environmental challenges and actions we can take. One great thing about Earth Day is that everyone can take part.

Interested in learning more? Type “Earth Day, 2023” into your computer’s browser and find tons of ideas.

All of us can find ways to celebrate Earth Day, 2023. Be part of the movement. Celebrate our planet! Find your way.

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