Take the March Challenge

For almost 50 years, Earth Day has been celebrated as a day to bring people together to find ways to better protect the planet. The first Earth Day occurred on April 22, 1970, and was founded by Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin. Nearly 20 million Americans attended rallies and protests on that day in an attempt to bring global awareness to the environmental issues facing the planet. Air and water pollution, loss of biodiversity (both plant and animal species), habitat loss and deforestation and pesticide over-use were all major issues on that day. While we are still finding ways to deal with these issues today (as well as a few additional ones, like climate change and our dependence on single-use plastics), it is believed that more than 1 billion people in 192 countries participate in Earth Day activities globally every year.

What does this mean for you??

Every year, the Earth Day Network focuses on a new theme. This year’s theme is Protecting Our Species.  https://www.earthday.org/campaigns/endangered-species/earthday2019/ While it may not seem like it, there are TONS of things we can do to help protect wild animals, even the ones that don’t live in Florida!

1. Pick up trash!

If you remember from January and February’s pledges, plastics can be very dangerous for wild animals. If they eat plastic, it can make them sick or can even kill them. Picking up trash (as long as it is safe for you to do it and you can wash your hands immediately after) is a great way to help protect animals!!

2. Avoid buying things with Palm Oil in them. Palm oil is something found in snack foods and beauty products and is responsible for the destruction of critical habitats where orangutans, elephants and rhinos live. EVERY HOUR, 300 football fields of forest in Indonesia are destroyed to make room for palm oil plantations and orangutans have lost 80% of their habitat in the past 20 years. By avoiding products with palm oil, we can help protect those species. For more information, go here:  https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/8-things-know-about-palm-oil

When you talk to your mom and dad about palm oil, tell them about this cool app that can help you find products containing sustainable palm oil:  http://www.cmzoo.org/index.php/conservation-matters/palm-oil-crisis/

3. Clean up fishing line! If you’ve ever been fishing with mom or dad, you know how easy it is to lose fishing line when your line breaks. However, that line could get wrapped around a turtle’s flipper, a pelican’s wing or a dolphin’s tail. It is super important that you find your broken line and retrieve as much of it as possible. You can also protect animals by finding fishing line discarded by other fishermen and throwing it away. Most fishing piers have a special PVC tube for collecting used fishing line or you can just take it home and throw it away.

4. Use only earth-friendly chemicals in your yard to protect our pollinators! Many of the chemicals we use in our gardens and flowerbeds contain things called neonicotinoids (like imidacloprid), glyphosates (like Round-Up) and organophosphates (like malathion). These big words spell trouble for our pollinating insects and can even make us sick! Bees cross-pollinate ~30% of our crops and are responsible for making sure we have foods like apples, oranges, blueberries, cucumbers, cantaloupes, carrots, avocados and almonds to eat!! To ensure we continue to have these foods, we must help protect bees and one of the easiest ways to do that is to eliminate pesticides that will make them sick or kill them. Instead of using a harmful chemical on your garden or flowers, try one of these: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/organic-pesticides/ or check this site out for other ways to help our pollinators: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/05/150524-bees-pollinators-animals-science-gardens-plants/

5. If you’ve been following along each month and participating in the monthly pledges, you are well on your way to being an amazing steward of our beautiful planet and fulfilling the mission of Earth Day. If you haven’t started yet, there’s still time!! You can work on more than one challenge per month. But next month is your LAST chance to participate in the pledges for this school year so if you haven’t started yet, get to work.

Earth Day isn’t just one day a year….it should be something we celebrate every day, as part of our mission to be good protectors of the Earth. As always, pick one thing to start with. When that feels comfortable, pick something new to try. Doing small things every day will make a big impact over time! Go Green!!