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“Get involved and give back to the Earth”
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“Get involved and give back to the Earth”

Harnoor Gill Ap 16Environmental activists around the world recently marked Earth Day 2016, but as Harnoor Gill, 18, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Georgetown in Canada writes, the day can be marked in many ways throughout the year. 

Each year, April 22nd marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970 known as Earth Day. This idea of a national Earth Day to focus on the environment came to founder Gaylord Nelson, an American Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing a horrific oil spill in 1969 in Santa Barbara, California.

Nelson realized he could infuse the energy of the anti-war movement at the time into an emerging public consciousness about pollution, while forcing environmental protection on to the national political agenda. On this special day in 1970, there were close to 20 million Americans out in the streets and parks to demonstrate for a healthy yet sustainable environment. The rallies were held from coast to coast. These rallies consisted of raising public consciousness on oil spills, polluting factories, power plants, freeways, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife.

Since 1970, Earth Day has reached its current status as the largest secular environmental observance in the world, with more than a billion people celebrating it every year. It represents a day of action that changes human behaviour and provokes policy changes across this beautiful planet.

In 2016, the fight for a clean environment continues with an increasing urgency, because the constant threats of climate change are becoming worse at an exponential rate. The 46th year of the movement continues to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion and motivate people to action.

Earth Day is bigger than attending a rally and taking a stand; it’s about making big stuff happen by getting involved in the cause. It’s our time as youth to help our planet by taking the momentum from the Paris Climate Summit and building upon it. It should not be a task, but a fun goal in planting 7.8 billion trees for the Earth. We need to come together to divest fossil fuels as well as to create 100 per cent renewable cities for all us to happily breathe in.

It’s time for us to start now – and never to stop – taking eco-friendly action in our lives. The best way to get involved right now is to utilize the perks of the search engine Google. The company launched a special map in honour of Earth Day, where there is a selection of planned events in different countries to become involved with. Technology has come this far to allow us to take place within local Earth Day events. It’s our job to take advantage of this in order to help in the process of creating a cleaner planet.

Giving back to Earth Day is not necessarily required to be through a donation for environmental groups. It can be as simple as going out in your community or rallying neighbours together to do a garbage clean-up, and even plant a few trees in order to showcase your motivation to take action on this special day. I personally take up a creative initiative for Earth Day each year, and this year I decided to plant some milkweed in my family’s garden in order to do my part in helping to save the Monarch butterflies that feed on these plants. I hope that by next spring, the plants survive and are able to help revive some of the population for the Monarch butterfly in my area.

Another great way to look at Earth Day is to not just picture it as a one-time event, but to take it as a way of life. The best way to go about this is to reduce the use of unnecessary lighting around the house, make less consumption of water, and recycle items properly in order to ensure a nurtured planet. It’s quite simple to give back and the Earth Day Network does a phenomenal job of this by providing millions of opportunities to people everywhere, as mobilization is the most effective vehicle to build a healthy, sustainable environment, address climate change, and protect Earth for future generations.

It’s our time as youth to take action and spread the word for others to take action each year on Earth Day. I urge you to not only let others know through social media, but take time out of your day to take part in stewardship in your very own community, because our planet needs your help!

Photo credit: courtesy of Harnoor Gill

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About me: I am a student in Georgetown, Canada, and founder of the Peace Welcome Club. I love to volunteer, read, write, and play basketball. I volunteer with local environmental and youth organizations and am dedicated to raising awareness about youth volunteering. My writing has been published in Indo-Canadian Voice, Asian Journal, Times of India, The Independent & Free Press, and in Amazing Kids! Magazine.
https://www.facebook.com/PeaceWelcomeClub
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response.
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
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