Celebrating Earth Day

As Earth Day arrives, I’m reminded of a riverside clean-up I participated in when I was a member of my high school’s Environmental Club. With a group of thirteen others, I spent two hours walking along the water’s edge picking up garbage. I was astonished by how much of it there was and disappointed at such a lack of concern for nature. We each ended up filling an extra-large, heavy duty garbage bag. At the end of the day, however, I was hopeful. I knew that I would continue to volunteer for various environmental projects and that there were many more people out there who felt the same about nature.

For me, nature is something that is stunningly beautiful and amazingly complex. I can never hope to understand it, but I appreciate it and want it to remain pristine for generations to come. April 22 marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day.  US Senator Gaylord Nelson coined the name in 1970 and hoped that by increasing public awareness of pollution, people would become involved. This involvement would then bring the issue of environmental protection to the forefront in the House of Representatives and Senate. I’m happy to say that people are definitely more aware of the environment and how important it is. Nevertheless, we’re still a long way from protecting it fully.

About a month after the riverside clean-up, our club also helped to harvest a community garden, which was one of the best experiences I had. There was a group of young kids present and the adults immediately got them involved. They held several contests where whomever picked the most of a chosen vegetable was the winner. The kids laughed and rushed into the garden. They didn’t worry about getting dirt on their clothes or breaking a nail. They were having fun while also supporting their community in an ecologically friendly way. Having them participate at such a young age also helped them see the importance of the environment and that they can help protect it in a fun way. Volunteering with my high school’s Environmental Club made opportunities like this known to students, but I know there are projects available for anyone outside of this setting. I also know that supporting these endeavors is important no matter what age you are.

Now that I’m in college, there’s been less time to partake in big environmental protection projects. I still do what I can by recycling religiously, using a re-fillable water bottle and supporting local farmers’ markets. However, there are alternative ways to become involved, many of which don’t involve donations. Volunteering is probably the best option. Earth Emerson, Emerson’s environmental club, works to promote environmental awareness and improve the campus and community through student activity. They also host fundraisers, benefit concerts and campus greening projects. Outside of Emerson, numerous community organizations and non-profits are looking for volunteers to help with projects. Greenovate Boston is a great online source that lists a number of environmental groups in the Boston area. ECO-USA is another source that lists organizations by state. If you’ve been inspired and want to become involved now, on Saturday, April 25, the Charles River Waterbed Association is hosting a riverside clean-up from 9am-12pm. This is a huge event supported by well-known businesses and schools such as Boston University and Whole Foods Market. To participate, you simply have to register online.

Know that you don’t have to take part in a big project to become involved. You could do something as simple as recycle and reuse materials or spread the word about the problem. The key thing is that people are learning and raising awareness of the issue. The more people that are knowledgeable on the subject, the more that can be done. Our environment isn’t something that we should take for granted. We should cherish it and protect it like a member of our family, because in way, the environment is a part of everyone’s family.

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