What is Earth Day?
April 22, 2022 will mark 52 years for the Earth Day movement. Today, Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national, and local policy changes.
The fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more and more apparent every day. The need to act was pointed out by Pope Francis in his weekly general audience on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Pope Francis called for greater protection for the planet, describing humans’ failure as guardians of the Earth, as evidenced by our exploitation of resources and damages to ecosystems. “Because of our selfishness, we have failed in our responsibility to be guardians and stewards of
the Earth,” he said. “We have polluted and despoiled it, endangering our very lives.” We must, then, rethink how we approach the Earth. Rather than exploit it for resources, said Francis, we must remember that “we stand on holy ground.”
History of Earth Day
Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has always fallen on April 22 in order to maximize student involvement by using a date between Spring Break and Final Exams. The call to action for the first Earth Day was preceded by decades of Americans consuming vast amounts of leaded gas through massive and inefficient automobiles. Air pollution was commonly accepted with little regard for environmental concerns.
However, with the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962, change was coming. Selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries, the book raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment, and the inextricable links between pollution and public health. Senator Gaylord Nelson has been honored as the founder of the first Earth Day. With bi-partisan support, the first Earth Day was held on college campuses across the United States. However, it soon broadened to include a wide range of organizations, faith groups, and others; consequently, Earth Day was born. Groups that had been once been fighting individually against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife united around these shared common values.
The first Earth Day led to the creation of several environmental laws that continue to be the hallmarks of environmental protection. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created on
December 2, 1970. The Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed on December 29, 1970; the Clean Air Act, which was initially enacted in 1963, was amended many times and is now administered by the EPA.
In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act. A year after that, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act, and soon after, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act was revised to expand its scope. In 1990, Earth Day went global when 200 million people in 141 countries raised their voices against environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 saw a boost in recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. 22 years ago, Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders a loud and clear message: citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on global warming and clean energy. 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reached out to hundreds of millions of people. Since 2000, the message of Earth Day has raised concern about the vulnerable state of our planet and the need to immediately act. The awareness of our climate crisis grows. Citizens of the world are demanding far greater action for our planet and its people.
How can you participate in Earth Day?
For masses on April 23 and April 24, the poor box donations will be designated for the Red Wiggler Community Farm, a sustainable farm where people with and without developmental disabilities come together to work, learn, and grow healthy food. Their website is https://redwiggler.org/. The farm is also founding a Care Farming Network to encourage other farms to provide work and therapeutic farming opportunities for marginalized individuals. The website to the Care Farming Network is https://carefarmingnetwork.org/.
Donations to the Reg Wiggler embody Pope Francis’ vision for integral ecology in Laudato si: “we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (LS 49).
If you are able to, participate in local activities, which include:
Earth Day Trash Clean-up by Blue Water Baltimore
Date: Friday, April 22
Time: 9:00 am • 12:00 pm
Middle Branch Park
3001 Waterview Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21230
ORGANIZER Leanna Powell Phone:
BRRC Cleanup: Hyde Park, Marlyn Ave and Back River Neck by Blue Water Baltimore
Saturday, April 23 • 9:00 am • 1:00 pm
Mayor Scott’s Spring Day of Service
Date: Saturday, April 30, 2022, from 9am-1pm
Location: You will be notified of your site via e-mail a week ahead.
Mayor Brandon M. Scott and Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Jason W. Mitchell encourage residents to organize to clean and beautify their neighborhoods for the Mayor’s Spring Cleanup. Community associations, block leaders, and organizations throughout the city can register their cleaning activities and request that City trucks visit their locations to collect by calling 311 or registering online. DPW will provide five trash collection bags to registered participants. Bags can be picked up at the following DPW locations: 2840 Sisson St. or 111 Kane St. Participants will need to provide their registration number to receive clean up bags. Individual residents are welcome to informally clean where they live by cleaning up loose litter around their properties, alleyways, and curbsides. Trash collected informally can be bagged and placed out with your household trash for weekly pick up, or residents can bring bagged trash to a Residential Drop-Off Center. Register your clean-up event or sign up as a volunteer by either calling 311 or going online.
Sign-up form for Day of Service | Mayor Brandon M. Scott (baltimorecity.gov)
Date: The entire month of April!
Location: Various locations determined by clean-up organizers
Baltimore County is encouraging Baltimore County residents to organize or attend a clean-up during Earth Month. Upon request, Baltimore County is providing each registered cleanup with up to 10 pairs of safety gloves and 20 contractor bags, available for pick up in advance at one of 14 county locations. The County is also providing post-cleanup trash pickup upon request. If you would like to be a Litter Blitz organizer, please register a cleanup, download resources, and report your post-cleanup results online at Litter Blitz – Baltimore County (baltimorecountymd.gov)
Compost and Rain Barrel Pick-Up
Date: Saturday, April 23, 2022, from 8 am – 1 pm
Location: Carroll County Government @ 225 North Center Street, Westminster, MD 21157
Pre-order your compost bins and rain barrels online by April 17th to pick them up in time for Earth Day! For more information, please contact Carroll County at 410-386-2510 or visit https://www.enviroworld.us/carrollcountymd.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Earth Day Tree Planting
Date: Friday, April 22, 2022, from 10 am – 1 pm
Location: You will receive additional details about the location and directions via e-mail during the week prior to the event.
Join us for our annual Earth Day tree planting on a farm in the Catoctin Mountains of Frederick County. We will plant the first of 1,600 trees and shrubs on eight acres along Friends Creek on a farm in Sabillasville. Plan to dress for the weather, as this event is outdoors and will be held rain or shine. Bring shovels, work gloves, a
reusable water bottle, and lunch. We will have a limited number of clean gloves and shovels available at the site, and light snacks and water bottle refills will be available. Registration closes April 21, 2022.
Stream-Link Education Volunteer Tree Planting
Date: Saturday, April 23, 2022, from 9 am – 11 am
Location: Tom’s Creek, 16693 Creamery Road, Emmitsburg, MD 21727
We will be planting trees in honor of Earth Day at Tom’s Creek. Space is limited to the first 100 volunteers. Please sign-up HERE.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Friends Creek Tree Planting
Date: Saturday, April 23, 2022, from 9 am – 1 pm
Location: You will receive additional details about the location and directions via e-mail during the week prior
to the event.
Date: Saturday, April 23, 2022, from 11 am – 5 pm
Location: Brookside Gardens @ 1800 Glenallen Avenue, Wheaton, MD 20902
This free event is a chance for residents, businesses, nonprofits, and neighbors, to come together, share ideas and learn. Plus, GreenFest has tons of fun activities for the whole family.
For more details, visit Montgomery County GreenFest
Simple activities you can do at home to conserve resources:
- Turn off lights when you are not using them.
- Turn off the water when brushing your teeth.
- Turn down the heat a few degrees, or turn your air conditioner up a few degrees.
- Incorporate compostable products into your daily routine.
- Use reusable bags for your groceries and skip the plastic bag.
- Wash with cold water and if you can, hang your laundry outside to dry.
- Unplug chargers and other electronics when not using them.
- Take a walk for those short errands and leave the automobile at home.
- Pay your bills online to reduce the consumption of paper.
- Use toilet paper and paper towels made of recycled paper or bamboo, or use reusable paper towels.
- Use reusable water bottles and coffee/teacups.
Other activities you can do:
- Contact your local representative and ask them to support environmental legislation.
- Reduce your consumption of red meat, pork, and chicken.
- Plant a native garden.
- Don’t use pesticides or herbicides.
- Cut your grass no shorter than 3 inches as it preserves moisture for the hot days of summer.