Earth Day 2021: Restore our Earth

Earth Day 2021: Restore our Earth

April 22, 2021
Riya Ganguly

Every year, 22nd April is celebrated worldwide as Earth Day marking the anniversary of the inception of the modern environmental movement. Before 1970, awareness about environmental hazards and pollution was meagre. Earth Day 1970 marked the beginning of the emerging public consciousness about prioritizing environmental concerns and addressing climate change.

The theme decided upon for Earth Day 2021 is ‘Restore our Earth’, which aims to focus on natural processes, emerging green technologies and innovative thinking to restore the world’s ecosystems. The theme establishes the urgency for people worldwide to take an active initiative towards environmental rehabilitation and reject international environmental lethargy and the notion that adaptation and mitigation are the sole methods of addressing climate change.

The global outbreak of the Coronavirus has had several adverse environmental implications. While the slowdown on economic activities and reduction of human engagement and travel has improved air and water quality and restored the ecological system to an extent, the simultaneous increase in medical waste, improper disposal of masks and disinfectants and stagnation of untreated wastes has contributed to environmental degradation.

Since popular methods of environmental restoration and combatting climate change such as volunteering for cleanups and participating in plantation drives are difficult to execute in light of the recent pandemic and its safety limitations, people can participate in Earth Day 2021 while ensuring their and other’s safety in the following ways:

Only 3 R’s aren’t enough!

“Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” has been a popular slogan in the combat against climate change. However, the drive towards zero waste can be hastened by adding two more ‘R’s’ to the list:

-REFUSE: Avoid consumption of plastic and paper products, say yes to reusables.

-ROT: While organic wastes do not harm the environment as undegradable wastes do, setting up a household compost system (or finding an organic waste drop off near you) would be a great way to ensure a productive utilization of organic wastes generated.

Proper mask disposal

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, the usage of surgical and disposable masks has risen tremendously and with that, the generation of medical waste. Being contaminated and non-reusable, improper mask disposal has posed an environmental hazard. Ideally, people should opt for reusable masks and if disposable masks are used, they must be folded inwards, rolled and wrapped for 72 hours before being disposed in properly covered garbage bins or mask-disposal stations.

Delete e-mails, delete carbon footprint!

A lesser-known fact is that spam, unread and unwanted emails immensely contribute to carbon emissions. Spam energy can generate up to 33 billion kw-hours of energy whereas electricity usage and greenhouse gas emissions only generate a meagre 5.5 billion kw-hours in comparison. Thus, in addition to preventing plastic usage and reducing electricity and water consumption, simply deleting 10 emails and unsubscribing to unwanted newsletters would greatly reduce the carbon footprint of the digital age.

Over the years, combined efforts around the world have led to Earth Day being widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world. Even the smallest initiative counts, and it is essential to take up the responsibility of raising awareness about climate change and contribute to create a cleaner and safer earth.

Also read: Creatively recycle to upcycle

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