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Earth Day 2018: An Opportunity To Befriend The  Planet

Image adapted from original by NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman KuringIt’s no surprise that the motto of this year’s Earth Day is ‘End Plastic Pollution’. The scientific concern about more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050 is being voiced more often than ever before. Plastic waste has become a media newsbeat and even supermarkets are reacting to the trend. The movement #BreakFreeFromPlastic is currently tracking unnecessary packaging in stores, organizing beach cleans and educating the public about the harmful effects of plastic in the ocean. Meanwhile, zero waste stores are popping up around the world to tackle plastic pollution. If you have been avoiding this issue so far, this year’s Earth Day is an ideal opportunity for you to join the movement and make a contribution to save our oceans.

How it all started

The idea of Earth Day was born in 1970, following the grassroots environmental movement formed after the publication of Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring. Until that time, the ideology of the industrial modern era dominated public discourse and only conservationists, activists and enthusiasts were concerned about its negative influence. Carson’s groundbreaking book published in 1962 brought  environmental awareness to mainstream attention. Ten years later, Arne Næss introduced his idea of deep ecology to the world - the idea that all living beings have inherent value, irrespective of their usefulness to humans.

Inspired by the student-led anti-war protests of the 1960s, the founder of Earth Day - Gaylord Nelson - decided to work with this powerful energy possessed by the public to raise an environmental agenda. During that time, the world witnessed a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, which also contributed to public outrage. On April 22, 1970 - the date intentionally selected to land between Spring Break and final exams - large demonstrations took place in US streets to fight against oil spills, a polluting industry, pesticides and the reduction of wilderness areas. Since then, this one day in April reminds us of the importance of paying attention to our environment and the influence we have on the planet.

One day to think about the Earth

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring influenced the media as well as raising the popularity of environmental journalism. News rooms in the US were extended to include environmental departments with journalists specifically focusing on these kinds of issues. However, for many reasons, environmental journalism is still marginalized in the news. Especially with the rise of digital media and consequential financial cuts, news rooms can hardly afford to maintain a special environmental department.

Moreover, environmental topics are difficult to cover as news is event-driven and requires striking visuals to be accompanied with. Therefore, it takes less effort to report on a hurricane or flood than to cover long-lasting, gradual, and nearly invisible environmental changes. For these reasons, environmental news relies on natural catastrophes, law changes or special anniversaries and events. In this sense Earth Day provides an invaluable opportunity to raise awareness among the public and media.

Be the change

Each year, Earth Day reminds us of the huge changes that environmental movements have accomplished in the past, and gives us an opportunity to become a part of these in the future. Even if not on any other day of the year than on April 22nd, we should take some time to appreciate the planet and contribute to its well-being. NGOs provide countless activities to engage in and join in with a billion other active Earth citizens.

For instance, Czech Greenpeace organizes The EcoChallenge. Its participants integrate one change into their lifestyle to make it more eco-friendly and maintain it for one month, whilst writing a blog about how they deal with new emerging difficulties and the reactions of their close ones. They can choose from various challenges such as eliminating palm oil, adopting a vegan diet, reducing water usage and zero waste lifestyles. In accordance with this year’s topic, the official Earth Day website offers a toolkit that can help you to calculate and reduce your plastic waste. Through this website, you can even organize your own event that contributes to tackling plastic pollution.

Another way to help the environment is to become a Frontier volunteer. Frontier runs marine conservation projects in Cambodia and Thailand – countries that are currently dealing with major problems caused by plastic pollution. If food waste is one of your main concerns, you might find our new project in Portugal interesting. Or if you prefer to combat climate change, check out our conservation project in Costa Rica or our internship in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

By Eliška Olšáková - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs conservation, developmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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