While Earth Day will be spent at home this year, the Ecology Action Center (EAC) is helping families celebrate the event's 50th anniversary.
On Wednesday, the EAC will provide a number of virtual online activities for families to participate in: panel discussions on renewable energy, discussion groups, a live reading of Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" for children, and a live showing of the documentary "The Story of Plastic," to encourage the community to improve the environment.
Executive Director Michael Brown said the activities offer techniques for families to practice to benefit the planet from the comfort of their homes.
“Some of the things we are encouraging people to do is to take advantage of the stay-at-home situation,” Brown said. “Parents are now working to help teach their kids and doing a little homeschooling during this time, there are activities that people can engage in that helps improve the environment and at the same time making a fun time with the activities.”
Brown said do-it-yourself activities such as waste audits help families track how much waste they are producing in their homes and can make it fun and educational for kids by counting waste and coming up with strategies to reduce it. He said looking at home energy use and water audits can help avoid wasting those resources. Covering air gaps indoors can improve home energy, save money, and prevent pollution. Fixing water leakage around the house can prevent wasting water.
Brown said while people going outdoors for exercise is permissible under the stay-at-home order, they can partake in cleaning their community while practicing social distancing and other clean habits.
“If you’re out and about getting a walk, why not take advantage of that time out to essentially do your own solo Earth Day cleanup activity?” Brown said. "We will be loaning out trash grabbers, trash picking-up sticks to borrow on your own terms; carry one with you when you’re out on a walk, pick up trash, throw it away, and help improve the aesthetics and cleanliness of the environment.”
He said to follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, keep gloves on and continue frequent handwashing.
Brown said while there’s no threat to landfills and issues with waste at this time, practicing these activities can help reduce the influx of waste while people are eating more takeout and spending more time at home. He encouraged the community to follow recycling guidelines to avoid putting waste in recycling that doesn’t belong.
First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day launched global environmental protection movements. Brown said the event helped spur landmark legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act that brought attention to climate and wildlife issues. He said while it has led to significant improvements, there is still work to be done because some federal regulations are being rolled back.
On the other hand, countries around the world are seeing significant improvement in air quality and cleaner rivers due to stay-at-home orders and the shutdown of nonessential businesses. Brown said he hopes it encourages people to practice healthy habits when the orders are lifted.
“Hopefully, we can continue to build and take Earth Day as an option to be aspired, and move forward again in improving our environment,” he said.
Brown also said the EAC, located at 202 W. College Ave. in Normal, is working on a Clean Energy Strategic Plan for Bloomington-Normal to track carbon emissions and develop strategies to reduce emissions and improve air quality in the future.
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