Does Earth Day Still Have Meaning?

Posted on by Donna Drewes, Sustainable Jersey Co-Director

New Jersey Green Teams Say Yes

SusJerPeople often ask me if I think Earth Day still has meaning. The Earth Day creation stories vary, but generally Earth Day evolved out of a growing disconnect between the environmental policy that communities at the local level wanted and what the government was willing to make into law.

Donna Drewes

Donna Drewes

On April 22, 1970, twenty million Americans celebrated Earth Day for the first time. Some say that this event launched the modern environmental movement.

Forty-five years later, April 22 continues to unite those who believe in caring for our world and the people and species that depend on it. More than one billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

In New Jersey, many of the 423 participating Sustainable Jersey communities celebrate Earth Day and use the day and month as a time to promote awareness and an appreciation for sustainability.

8th Annual Living Local Expo

Just last month, the 8th Annual Living Local Expo brought a wide variety of resources together to educate and inspire residents to live a healthy and sustainable life. The event featured sustainable local businesses, community groups, local farms, cooking demonstrations, hands-on workshops and speakers.

What started as Lawrenceville’s green fair has turned into a multi-municipal county-wide effort. Organized by a volunteer committee from the Mercer County Sustainability Coalition, the event included six Sustainable Jersey green teams: Ewing Green Team, Hopewell Valley Green Team, Lawrence Green Team, Sustainable Lawrence, Sustainable Princeton and the Trenton Green Team.

The Coalition also includes the Mercer County Office of Economic Development and Sustainability. Sustainable Jersey provides certification points for towns that hold a green fair and additional points for towns that can ‘green their green fair.’ Here is what the Living Local Expo did: Greening Our Green Fair.

“This year’s Living Local Expo took a giant leap in the expansion of our joint vision. Green teams in Mercer County came together because of a greater awareness of our collective strength; the realization that working as a team generates better ideas, resources and exponentially increases the impact to the region,” said Tahirih Smith, president of the Sustainable Lawrence Board of Trustees. “It’s no longer a competition to be the town with the most certification points or the most solar panels. Each green team wanted to participate and contributed to the event. This is a step forward. If all towns commit to working together, we can more effectively address issues of waste, transportation, local economies, etc. And our growing community will learn the very practical benefits of being sustainable.”

Maplewood Green Month

This year, the Maplewood Green Team decided to dedicate the whole month to green events. “After seven years of holding our annual Green Day fair, we’re celebrating this year by engaging the community all month long with eco-educational events rather than just a one day event,” said Tracey Woods, chair of the Maplewood Green Team. “We feel the sustainability movement growing and know that our message is resonating with the community.” Green Month activities can be found on the Maplewood is Green Facebook site.

Attend an Earth Day Event

To help you find an Earth Day event or clean-up, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has coordinated a 2015 Events Calendar – Earth Day, Earth Week which has great ideas and resources. In addition, below are a few of the many events and activities planned by Sustainable Jersey green teams and partners.

So yes, Earth Day is still relevant and important. The green team movement in New Jersey is growing with the 423 participating New Jersey municipalities and now with our 255 participating school districts and schools through Sustainable Jersey for Schools. Don’t believe it? Attend one of these Earth Day events and I think you will be inspired.

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