The Importance of Earth Day

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I remember being told as a young teenager that one day water would be as valuable as gold. I recall at that moment I thought “how absurd.” In my maturing and wiser years, I can now see the relativity. Our nation has been endowed with numerous natural resources, seemingly infinite at times. Of course, nothing last forever! The 1960s and 70s brought much change to the social, political, and environmental landscape of our land. During those days, Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin, tried to bring environmental issues to the forefront. Frustrated with the laid-back Congress, he designated April 22, 1970, as “National Day for the Environment.” More than 20 million people participated in this event, becoming the first Earth Day celebration. Celebrating Earth Day quickly became a worldwide event. In 2009, the United Nations officially renamed this day, “International Mother Earth Day.” Here at home, Earth Day still seems to be the reference of choice.

The purpose of Earth Day is to bring attention to environmental issues challenging us today. This also presents excellent opportunities to educate everyone on practices promoting conservation and sustainability. One definition of sustainability is for something to continue as it is currently operating without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Did you know Americans generate 21.5 million tons of food waste each year? If we composted that food, it would reduce the same amount of greenhouse gas as taking 2 million cars off the road. Composting is a practice many can incorporate using our daily kitchen produce waste and leftovers. Vermicomposting is even a better choice, using earthworms to digest the food waste, converting it into a microbe and nutrient-rich soil improvement. Americans throw away 25 million plastic bottles every hour. Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to listen to a full album on your MP3 player. Recycling 100 cans will save the equivalent energy to light your bedroom for 2 whole weeks. It takes a 15-year-old tree to produce 700 grocery bags. Paper grocery bags are a better choice than plastic, but a reusable shopping bag is the best sustainable choice. Keeping the reusable shopping bags in your vehicle will enable you to implement this practice easier.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, is partnering with the City of Lumberton to celebrate Earth Day. The event will offer educational booths along with many activities planned for kids including face painting, bounce houses, container planting, and a trackless train. Bodenhamer Nursery of Rowland will be donating pine tree seedlings. There will also be earth-friendly prizes for those who register at the celebration. The celebration will be held, Saturday, April 18, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the soccer fields located on Kahn Drive, between BB&T and Carroll Middle School.

For more information, please contact Mack Johnson, Extension Horticultural Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by E-mail at, or visit our website at North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.

Source: Green Waste, “A Brighter Shade of Green.” Recycling Stats. Accessed March 28, 2014.

Written By

Mack Johnson, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionMack Johnson, Jr.Extension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture Call Mack Email Mack N.C. Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center
Updated on May 19, 2015
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