It’s Earth Day, Demand Change

A heron on the North Branch of the Chicago River .

As we celebrate the 53rd Earth Day on April 22, let us take note of the amazing environmental progress made in the United States over the past five decades including the establishment of US EPA, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act. Although not perfectly fail-safe, these pioneering actions drastically changed the trajectory and expectation of environmental degradation. They helped us pull species back from the brink; clean up our land, air, and water; and gave us legal standing in the fight against pollution.  The first Earth Day brought millions of Americans into the streets to demand change… and change happened.

Today, as we all participate in Earth Day activities in our own communities, we must also contemplate our modern environmental crises that might not be visible day to day but are nonetheless as threatening. They include accelerating biodiversity loss and the changing climate, which stand to alter the planet irrevocably, unless we act against them.

First and foremost, we need our government to take charge and create and enforce laws and regulations that support a healthy future with renewable power, protected wildlife, and nature-based solutions employed at macro and micro scales across the country.

Personal actions make a difference too and everyday people taking every day action inspires more people to take action. You must vote for candidates who are committed to game-changing climate action policies. In Illinois, you can assess the environmental records of state legislators by reviewing a scorecard compiled by our partners at the Illinois Environmental Council. You can organize a neighborhood cleanup with the help of our Litter Free Supply Stations, or join us May 13 for Chicago River Day, our largest volunteer cleanup event of the year. And no matter what, take action today to urge your Illinois state senator to support legislation to phase out single-use polystyrene foam foodware in the state, a major source of litter in the Chicago-Calumet River system.

So take to the streets literally and metaphorically today and stand up for the planet. Our actions together will make change.