Earth Day is April 22, and did you know it was first held in 1970 to demonstrate support for environmental protection? It now includes a wide array of events coordinated globally.  The day reminds people of the little things we can do daily for a sustainable future. 

Sustainability should be a goal for every person, park or park system, local government, or company, but it can be hard to know where to start with such a broad scope. First, figure out your impact; many times, people or organizations are already taking steps towards sustainability but have not looked at it through that lens. 

Figure out Your Impact
The information you need to figure out your impact on the environment is the same for a company or at home. Gather your energy, water, and solid waste bills for the month.  Utilize the following free platforms to figure out your impact.

  • What is your personal carbon footprint?
  • Individuals and organizations alike can reduce their energy use and waste with ENERGY STAR. For home owners or individuals: When it is time to replace your refrigerator, washer or dryer, room air conditioner, or heat pump water heater to name a few, consider purchasing an ENERGY STAR certified product as they will help you save energy and reduce your utility bill. ENERGY STAR’s website also provides tips to improve home and building comfort, how to locate potential rebates, and see if you are eligible for residential energy efficiency tax credits. For organizations and commerical buildings: ENERGY STAR can help you benchmark your building to measure energy usage and compare your building’s energy to similar buildings and well as managing energy, water, waster and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Once you have figured out what steps you are currently taking for sustainability and your impact, you can decide on other actions.  There are a considerable number of resources that provide strategies such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the United Nations, which are seventeen goals with tangible strategies and actions.  This spring, taking steps for nature by incorporating the SDG strategies and personal changes will lead you to look outdoors.

While at times it may seem we’re in a worse position than when Earth Day celebrations first began over 50 years ago and progress towards reaching our climate goal is moving at a slower pace than preferred, experts remind us that there is plenty to feel good about. Global CO2 emission could peak next year (in 2025) and clean energy is now the cheapest energy. 

Ways to Support Mother Nature
There are many ways you can support our environment and many more benefits to spending time outdoors.  During the past two years of the pandemic, more people spent time outside and connecting with our parks. Why is this important?
Studies have shown that a person is happier, concentration improves, and cortisol levels (stress) decrease when they spend time outdoors.  One way to bring nature to you is to use our yards and landscaping to create a parklike environment.  

Consider Getting involved with the Following Organizations

  • Garden for Wildlife! in Texas and Oklahoma: Scientific studies confirm that wildlife thrives in more significant numbers, planted gardens with native plants that provide floral diversity, rich nectar, pollen sources, and three-season bloom.
  • Lights out, Texas: Lights Out Texas is a campaign of education, awareness, and action that focuses on turning out lights at night during the spring and fall migrations to help protect the billions of migratory birds that fly over Texas annually.

Ways to Get Involved
One of the most precious resources in life is time.  There are so many benefits when we take the time to give back to our community and environment.  In a
 study from Carnegie Mellon University, volunteering can lead to lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan.

  • Have a Volunteer Vacation
    Volunteer Vacations are good for you and Mother Nature. Work hard, get dirty, dig deep…and feel immensely rewarded.  Build a legacy that will bring outdoor adventures to others for years to come.
  • Become a Master Naturalist
    The program’s mission is to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the state of Texas.

Innovate and be Inspired
Take a step back and realize there are so many ways to make an impact, even just one person making changes. Recently, the federal government created the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), an excellent opportunity for individuals, communities, and organizations to come together to innovate and make every day Earth Day.  The act includes transportation, climate, energy, the environment, and other programs. 

  • Turning Waste to Wealth: Nairobi-based startup company Gjenge Makers, founded by Nzambi Matee, has created a lightweight and low-cost building material made of recycled plastic with sand to make bricks that are stronger than concrete material.
  • Art to Inspire: One Planet One Future harnesses the universal language of art to raise awareness and inspire individual action.

To join in Texas and Oklahoma Events for Earth Day, check, where cities, communities, and organizations post their activities and events!