As green industry professionals, we know better than most how important nature and the environment is to the health and well-being of people. While this year’s Earth Day looks very different than those of the past, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still great things happening around the world.
According to George Valiotis, environmentalist and CEO of PACE Glass, smog has been lifted from major metropolitan cities due to more Americans working remotely and leaning more heavily on recycling.
Valiotis also notes that because of social distancing, people are consuming more materials in one place that will have to be picked up, which means that curbside recycling is anticipated to increase by 30-40 percent.
Lastly, Valiotis notes that despite coronavirus’ (COVID-19’s) negative impacts on health and the global economy, carbon emissions are anticipated to drop 5.5 percent this year alone.
Earth Day: Then and now
Earth Day was created after U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson wanted to draw attention to the pollution of America’s land, air and water. Twenty million Americans from all walks of life gathered across the country on April 22, 1970, to protest the destruction of the environment.
In 1990, the holiday went global, involving 200 million people in over 141 countries. By the end of that year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was formed, according to the Earth Day Network (EDN). Since then, Earth Day has grown into a phenomenon that has gathered tens of thousands of partners in 192 countries. According to EDN, more than one billion people now participate in activities celebrating Earth Day each year, which makes it the largest civic observance in the world.
Each year, the EDN sets forth a challenge for Earth Day, such as protecting at-risk species or promoting environmental and climate literacy. This year’s challenge will focus on climate action and a citizen science initiative, which the EDN says is the world’s most accessible and transparent citizen science database portal ever created. The EDN says this initiative was accomplished through its partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Eco-Capitals Forum and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
“Earth Day 2020 will be far more than a day,” the EDN says online. “It must be a historic moment when citizens of the world rise up in a united call for the creativity, innovation, ambition and bravery that we need to meet our climate crisis and seize the enormous opportunities of a zero-carbon future. We’ll demand that leaders take science seriously, listen to their people and push for action at every level of society to stop the rising tide of climate change. Earth Challenge 2020 will help fulfill our goal of engaging millions of global citizens while integrating billions of data points from new and ongoing citizen science projects.”
How customers can celebrate Earth Day
While it’s no secret that we are all still in the midst of quarantine life, there are still plenty of ways you can encourage your customers to get out and about in nature to celebrate Earth Day.
Whether it’s planting more trees, sprucing up a flower bed, tending to a vegetable garden, recycling or just taking a walk through their landscape, customers have numerous options at their disposal for how they can enjoy all that nature offers.
For clients wanting to help the environment and enjoy their green space all at once, consider talking to them about creating a pollinator garden to make the space more bee-friendly.
Another idea to consider is planting a wildflower garden.
“Large or small, the benefits of a wildflower ‘patch’ are numerous,” says Dani Carroll, an Alabama Extension regional agent specializing in home grounds, gardens and home pests. “Environmentally, the pollinators will love you. Honeybees and native bees, along with butterflies and other pollinators will enjoy the continuous food source – nectar.”
Along with looking beautiful, wildflower gardens also have practical uses, such as defining a property line, adding pops of color to a landscape or helping control erosion.
A third idea is to incorporate more native plants into the landscape. Since natives are best adapted to the climate and soil they grew up in, they are typically less fazed by drought and other challenges.
Lastly, talk to customers about the benefits of planting their own vegetable garden. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, more and more people have started up their own gardens to ensure they are able to get fresh vegetables and herbs when needed. This could be the perfect time for your clients to work on their green thumbs and see what kind of tasty treats they can grow.