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Master Gardener: Earth Day 2020 Just not another day on Planet Earth

Will Summers

Master Gardener

April 22, 2020, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, was started in the spring of 1970 by Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson.  This is an unofficial holiday meant for young and old, rich or poor, city people or country folks.

Let’s face it – the Earth has had a long period of successes – in fact, approximately four billion years worth.  The success of life on planet Earth has been phenomenal.  Earth Day has led to significant improvement in air and water quality that continues to improve the quality of life today.  In the years that followed the first Earth Day, three monumental laws were passed: The Clean Air Act, The Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.    

Here are some suggestions for you to better appreciate and enjoy Earth Day:

Get outdoors.  Do some spring garden chores you put off all winter.  Take a walk around your neighborhood.  Learn the names of a few new birds, plants or trees that you never knew before.

Pick up trash. Don’t walk past a single piece of trash, large or small, anywhere without picking it up.  Plan ahead by taking along a used plastic bag to deposit it.

Conserve. Turn off all unnecessary lights and unused gadgets in your house.  Switch to electricity-conserving LED lights.  Turn down the thermostat or turn off the air conditioner.  Turn down your water heater; use less hot water.  Turn down your furnace and put on a sweater if you’re cold.

Plant. Plant a vegetable garden.  Plant a tree. National Arbor Day in Illinois is Thursday, April 24th.  Now is an excellent time to plant nearly anything and gardening is a well-recognized and popular hobby in America.

Enjoy quiet. Go the entire day without watching television or even listening to the radio.

Educate. Talk to your neighbors (from a safe distance); explain to children your life-experiences with the environment.  Share with family, friends and acquaintances your past histories over the past 50 years and then hear their histories.  Gain an appreciation of others’ life stories,  including hardships as well as times of happiness.

Lastly, “Appreciate”. The Earth is a bonified success story.  Consider, celebrating a “Mars-Day”, or any of the nearly infinite number of planets known to exist.  None possess the environmental success demonstrated by our planet.  If there was ever a toolkit or an instruction manual for operating the Earth, it is in the environment.  What hurts the environment is contrary to the safe operation of this planet.  Please do your best to appreciate and protect the environment on Earth Day 2020, as well as every day.

For more information regarding ways to improve the environment or questions regarding any natural resources or gardening issues, please contact your county Master Gardener or Master Naturalist, or your local University of Illinois Extension Service Office.

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