Celebrate Earth Month!

Photo: iStockphoto.com/AlexMax
From coast to coast, Canadians are taking action for the planet.

April is Earth Month, and we’re excited about all the upcoming events and activities. There are plenty of ways to get involved – how will you take part this year?

Forty-two years ago, Earth Day was established to create awareness and appreciation of our precious – and increasingly fragile – planet. Celebrated on April 22nd, Earth Day has over a billion participants around the world. Individuals, businesses, schools and governments commemorate what has been achieved and discuss what remains to be done to protect Earth. And even better news - over the years, Earth Day has evolved into Earth Week and Earth Month.

April is now set aside for a discourse on all things Earth. But why should we have to wait until April to have environmental dialogue? After Earth Month is over, it would be great if we could establish every month as Earth Month, and every year as Earth Year, and keep environmental discussion in the media. 

Undoubtedly, the most important and exciting changes are the ones the last far beyond April. The first Earth Day, in 1970, inspired the U.S. Congress to pass and strengthen Clean Air and Water Acts, and to create the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to monitor environmental issues and establish environmental policy and laws. In 1990, the first International Earth Day brought pressure on many governments to take part in the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and to tackle issues such as climate change, the growing scarcity of water and the loss of species. Earth Day has been perhaps most successful at changing behaviour and attitudes, and provoking policy change.

In Canada, activities range from large public events, such as the Earth Walk in Victoria, Earth Day Festival at Fort Edmonton Park, and Party for the Planet at the Toronto Zoo, to thousands of smaller events organized by individuals, schools, employee groups and community groups.  In the United States, events include the Earth Day Eco Event in San Francisco and the Mobilize the Earth festival in Washington, D.C. Check out Green Living’s list of events for activities near you, or start your own! (For inspiration, check out Earth Day Canada’s action guides and the EPA’s planning toolkit.) The events don’t stop in April – if you’re in the Toronto area, plan to attend the 9th Annual Earth Day Canada Gala, June 6th at the Drake Hotel.

The international Earth Day Network inspires over a billion people in 192 countries to participate in activism and environmental protection. Earth Day Canada (EDC) is a national non-profit group, founded in 1991 to provide Canadians with tools and knowledge to lessen their environmental impact. The group has been coordinating Earth Day/Earth Month events and creating successful campaigns. This April, EDC invites you to take up a new habit that is good for the planet and good for you, from detoxing your personal care routine to eating more plant-based meals. Pledge to take up an action for Earth Month today, or share your personal eco-commitments via EDC’s Facebook page or Twitter, and with us.

Kids across Canada can also act for the planet. Started in 1994, EDC’s EcoKids is a free environmental education program for Canadian elementary schools. Celebrate Earth Month with your young ones by choosing one or more of the following actions, complete with tools and tips: save the birds, plant for the planet, bring your own bottle or upcycle your recycling.

We would be remiss not to mention the 6th annual Green Living Show, held April 13-15 in Toronto. It’s Canada’s largest green consumer show, where you can shop, taste and discover. Have fun with the whole family and discover ways to reduce your environmental footprint for Earth Day and beyond. Check out Earth Day Canada’s EcoKids Zone, presented in part by RBC and Elmer’s. It’s jam-packed with fun, entertaining activities and performances geared to make a lasting impact on how kids think about the planet. While you’re at the show, get water-wise and buy a rain barrel from Rainbarrel.ca; proceeds support Earth Day Canada.

Earth Day is the perfect occasion to reflect on how to protect our planet. On April 22, we will stand united for a sustainable future and demand change. How will you celebrate Earth Day, Earth Month or Earth Year? E-mail editor@green-living.ca