Earth Day has long had a special significance for me. Aside from the fact that it coincides with my birthday, it is also the day in 2006 that I stood on the Santa Monica Promenade alongside my family wearing our matching green Patagonia shirts embossed with the brand new Greenopia leaf logo, handing out the very first editions of the Greenopia guides at Heal the Bay’s Aquarium Earth Day Celebration. That feeling of hope for the journey we were embarking on and the impact we might have to make this planet greener and more eco-friendly has never left me. Even now when I remember that day, I can feel it once again ignite my passion for what has since become my life’s mission — to help everyone live with a green heart.
All these years later and one would think it would be easier and while in many ways it is, we still have so much work to do to ensure the well-being of the planet and of our children. I was reminded of that just this week when I learned about the visit US Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke made to Santa Barbara while I was enjoying the natural splendor of the Grand Canyon (more on that in a future blog). He spoke at a private event at the Regan Center and while no details as to the specifics of the speech are known, what we do know is that Zinke has publicly stated that “opening more federal lands and waters to oil and gas drilling is a pillar of President Trump’s plan to make the United States energy-independent.”
That’s a particularly sensitive issue for any environmentalist, and as one who lives in Santa Barbara, the irony is not lost on me. The original idea for a national day devoted to the environment was that of Earth Day founder, Gaylord Nelson after he witnessed the ravages of the first major offshore oil spill in the US that occurred in 1969 in Santa Barbara. At the time a US Senator from Wisconsin, Nelson was inspired by the socially conscious movements of that era to use that energy to raise public awareness about what air and water pollution were doing to the planet. Luckily for all of us, he was successful.
The first Earth Day occurred on April 22, 1970, and has every year since. Earth Day was the catalyst for the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. All of that is proof that education, awareness and grassroots activism can be effective.
People always ask me what they can to do that is good for the environment. My response is to make every day Earth Day. Take small actions, stop buying plastic bottles, sort your trash into reusable plastic for your household, paper, recyclables and compostables — the less waste, the better. Shut the light off in the other room even though you know you’ll be back; I got our utility bill down 25% last month! And take that extra step — for instance, purchasing eggs from a local farmer at Farmers Market instead of buying an “Organic” carton from your supermarket that were trucked in from across the country; small steps do matter and add up! Setting an intention to put the environment first in everything you do is truly becoming an environmentalist.
Equally important is to stay informed. Know what legislation is being introduced into Congress and how it can affect the environment and ultimately your health. Places like the NRDC, Environmental Defense Fund and resources like this list that helps you to find an environmental organization near you and are great places to start. Even if you can’t attend the Earth Day March for Science in Washington this year, find a local march and tweet out your support for Mother Nature and your commitment to make every day Earth Day. Tag me @gaybrowne and I promise to tweet you back!
Originally published at medium.com