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Earth Day: The Impacts of Pollution, Racism, and Corruption

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22nd that brings people together from all over the world to raise awareness about environmental issues and promote actions that protect our planet. The holiday is a great opportunity to reflect on our impact on the planet and to take action to promote sustainability. As individuals and business owners, we have an important role to play in helping to create a sustainable future for our planet.

Now, it's important to acknowledge that larger corporations have a larger impact on the planet than any single individual, but both groups have a role to play in promoting sustainability and reducing pollution, and it will take collective action and collaboration to create a more sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.

So what can we do to have a more positive impact on our planet? Here are some ideas for individuals and businesses to improve their sustainability practices and increase positive impact:

Understand humanity's impact on the planet (TW: some photos show humans and animals starving / dying as a result of climate disaster)

Understand the far-reaching and unequal effects of pollution on our populations and how pollution and racism are inextricably tied:

Hold big corporations accountable for their environmental impact (read: Just 100 firms attributable for 71% of global emissions):

  • Use Your Voice: One of the most important things you can do is to use your voice to raise awareness about the environmental impact of big corporations. Share information on social media, write letters to the editor, and participate in online campaigns to call attention to the issue.

  • Pressure Governments and Regulatory Agencies: Governments and regulatory agencies have the power to enforce environmental regulations and hold corporations accountable for their actions. Contact your elected officials, attend public hearings, and support organizations that advocate for stronger environmental regulations.

  • Support Shareholder Activism: Shareholder activism is a way for investors to use their power to advocate for change in the companies they invest in. You can support shareholder resolutions that call for more sustainable practices and environmental accountability.

  • Participate in Boycotts and Divestment Campaigns: Boycotts and divestment campaigns can be effective ways to pressure corporations to change their practices. You can participate in campaigns that encourage consumers to avoid products or services from companies with poor environmental records.

Hold politicians accountable for their role in advancing non eco-friendly practices. Two-thirds of Americans think the government should do more on climate (pew research center), but because of rampant corruption and gridlock in our government, things aren't getting done. Corruption in politics can have a significant impact on the environment and contribute to pollution and damage to the earth in several ways:

  1. Weaker Environmental Regulations: Politicians who are influenced by corporate interests may be less likely to pass or enforce strong environmental regulations. This can result in weaker regulations that allow corporations to pollute more freely and contribute to environmental damage.

  2. Lack of Enforcement: Corruption can also lead to a lack of enforcement of existing environmental regulations. When politicians and regulators are influenced by corporate interests, they may be less likely to hold polluters accountable and enforce penalties for environmental violations.

  3. Resource Mismanagement: Corruption in politics can also lead to mismanagement of natural resources. For example, politicians may grant permits for mining or drilling operations without proper environmental assessments, or they may divert funds earmarked for environmental protection to other projects.

  4. Lack of Transparency: Corruption can also contribute to a lack of transparency and accountability in government decision-making. This can make it difficult for citizens to hold politicians and corporations accountable for their environmental impact.

Corruption in politics can undermine efforts to protect the environment and promote sustainability. It is important to support anti-corruption measures and advocate for greater transparency and accountability in government decision-making to help protect the earth and ensure a sustainable future for all. Recent news around corruption in politics include findings against Clarence Thomas, insider trading in congress, & much more.

If you aren't sure where to start with holding corporations and politicians responsible for their role in creating an unsustainable environment, check out RepresentUs, America’s leading nonpartisan anti-corruption organization fighting to fix our government. They unite people across the political spectrum to pass laws that hold corrupt politicians accountable, defeat special interests, and force the government to meet the needs of the American people.

Here are some things individuals can do to improve sustainability practices:

  1. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: The three R's of sustainability are a great place to start. Reduce your consumption of single-use plastics and other items that generate waste, reuse items whenever possible, and recycle properly.

  2. Conserve Energy: There are many ways to conserve energy in your daily life, such as turning off lights when you leave a room, using energy-efficient light bulbs, unplugging electronics when they're not in use, and using a programmable thermostat.

  3. Use Sustainable Transportation: Consider using public transportation, carpooling, biking, or walking instead of driving alone. This can help reduce your carbon footprint and promote sustainable transportation options.

  4. Support Sustainable Businesses: Look for businesses that prioritize sustainability and environmental responsibility. Support companies that use eco-friendly practices and materials, and choose products that are made from sustainable materials.

  5. Plant Trees and Native Plants: Trees and native plants are important for biodiversity and can help mitigate the effects of climate change. Consider planting trees in your yard or supporting organizations that plant trees or native plants in your community.

  6. Reduce Water Usage: Conserving water is an important part of sustainability. You can reduce your water usage by taking shorter showers, fixing leaky faucets, and using water-efficient appliances and fixtures.

  7. Advocate for Environmental Policies: Use your voice to advocate for environmental policies at the local, state, and national levels. Contact your elected officials, attend public hearings, and support organizations that promote environmental policy change.

  8. Host a drive to collect e-waste (like old electronic devices or equipment, batteries, etc.) and other materials that can be difficult to recycle.

  9. Get crafty with some environmentally-inspired DIY projects: Transform your old T-shirts into fun reusable shopping totes, or create homemade stationary by making biodegradable seed paper.

Here are some ways businesses can celebrate Earth Day and show their commitment to environmental sustainability:

  1. Reduce your carbon footprint: One of the most effective ways to show your commitment to the environment is by reducing your carbon footprint. This can be achieved by implementing energy-efficient practices in your business operations such as using LED lighting, investing in renewable energy sources like solar panels or wind turbines, and encouraging employees to carpool or use public transportation.

  2. Use sustainable products and materials / go paperless: Using sustainable products and materials in your business operations can help reduce waste and protect the environment. Consider using recycled or alternative paper products (hello plantable business cards), reusable bags and water bottles, and avoiding single-use plastic items like straws and utensils.

  3. Support environmental causes: Show your support for environmental causes by partnering with organizations that promote sustainability and eco-friendliness. This can include sponsoring local events, participating in community clean-up efforts, or donating to environmental organizations.

  4. Educate yourself and others: Education is key to promoting sustainable practices and protecting the environment. Educate your employees on the importance of reducing waste, conserving energy, and using sustainable products. You can also provide educational resources for your customers, such as tips on reducing their carbon footprint or information on sustainable products.

  5. Source locally: Sourcing your products and materials locally can help reduce your carbon footprint and support your local community. Consider partnering with local suppliers, farmers, and artisans to reduce transportation emissions and support local businesses.

  6. Plant a garden: Planting a garden on your business property can help improve air quality, reduce the urban heat island effect, and provide a source of fresh produce. Consider planting a vegetable garden, herb garden, or pollinator garden that can benefit your business and the environment.

  7. Host an eco-focused event: Hosting an eco-friendly event like a community clean-up, green fair, or sustainable product showcase can help raise awareness about environmental issues and promote sustainable practices. Consider partnering with local environmental organizations or other businesses to organize a fun and educational event.

The good news is, that for every group that is actively working to destroy our planet, there are many more that are working on sustainability and the protection of natural resources. Here are a few examples of environmental and sustainability focused companies:

  • Patagonia is a well-known outdoor apparel company that has been committed to environmental sustainability for decades. The company uses recycled materials in many of its products, supports environmental causes, and has taken steps to reduce its carbon footprint.

  • Allbirds is a sustainable footwear company that uses natural materials like wool, eucalyptus, and sugarcane in its products. The company also prioritizes sustainable manufacturing practices and carbon neutrality.

  • Eileen Fisher is a women's clothing company that has been committed to sustainability for over 30 years. The company uses sustainable materials like organic cotton, recycled polyester, and Tencel, and has implemented sustainable manufacturing practices throughout its supply chain.

  • Seventh Generation is a company that produces eco-friendly household and personal care products. The company uses plant-based ingredients and recycled materials in its products, and is committed to reducing its environmental impact and promoting sustainability.

  • The Body Shop is a beauty and personal care company that is committed to sustainability and social responsibility. The company sources ingredients from sustainable and ethical sources, and has implemented sustainable practices throughout its supply chain.

You can find additional eco-news, resources, brands, and business ratings below:

  • Green America Green Business Network: The Green Business Network is a community of socially and environmentally responsible businesses that have been screened and approved by Green America. You can search for green businesses by location, industry, and other criteria.

  • Good On You: Good On You is a platform that rates fashion brands on their sustainability and ethical practices. You can search for fashion brands by name or by criteria like sustainability, labor rights, and animal welfare.

  • Ethical Consumer: Ethical Consumer is a UK-based organization that provides information and ratings on the environmental, social, and ethical practices of companies across various industries. You can search for companies by name or by criteria like animal rights, environmental impact, and workers' rights.

  • Eco-Business: Eco-Business is a media company that covers environmental news and sustainability issues in the Asia-Pacific region. They also have a directory of sustainable businesses in the region that you can search by industry, location, and other criteria.

  • GoodGoodGood Climate: good climate news helping you feel more hopeful & do more good for the planet.

  • 11 Eco-Friendly Brands That Put The Planet First

  • 17 Eco-Friendly Brands You Can Support Right Now

Earth Day is an important holiday that reminds us of the need to protect our planet and promote sustainable practices. And while the thought of fighting against mega corporations and corrupt governments can seem daunting, keep in mind that every action, no matter how small, can make a difference in protecting our planet for future generations. It's also important to remember that change often happens slowly and requires sustained effort and advocacy. But by working together and advocating for change, we can create a more sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.

Photos and good news courtesy of @goodgoodgood

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