Students around the South Cariboo are getting ready to clean up the earth in this community Thursday.
The annual Earth Day celebrations will likely be a little different than usual, given that COVID protocols will be in place, but several schools are making plans to honour the event, which started on April 22, 1970, amid a push for environmental reform.
Earth Day came about because of an emerging public consciousness about the planet amid environmental issues like increased air pollution and massive consumption of fossil fuels in the 1960s.
The bestselling book “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson also raised public concern for living organisms and the links between pollution and public health.
At 100 Mile elementary, teacher Margot Shaw said classes will go out throughout the day in rotation to clean up Centennial Park and surrounding areas.
Other schools, such as Mile 108 and Horse Lake elementary schools are also considering Earth Day events.
Peter Skene Ogden Secondary students, meanwhile, will go out in individual classes, starting at the high school and spreading out across town to clean up litter all day Thursday, said teacher Tai St-Pierre. A wildlife-friendly webinar will also be offered to PSO students during lunchtime to discuss principles of food, water, shelter and safety of animals.
Since the first Earth Day 50 years ago, many strides have been made in the environmental movement.
This grassroots initiative gave rise to the establishment of the environmental protection agencies, the clean air acts and the clean water acts. Public demand for environmental safeguards grew in the second half of the 20th century, and those demands have grown stronger in recent years.
Reduce, reuse, recycle is now a mantra for many people. Mitigating or avoiding environmental effects, proper waste disposal, reduction in water discharge, and emphasis on reducing, reusing and recycling have become important components of environmental wellness.
And people are being educated at earlier stages on the importance of environmental mindfulness.
For example, core subjects of the environmental movement are increasingly covered in elementary schools.
Twenty million people turned out for the first Earth Day in the United States. Today, more than 190 countries, including Canada, are engaged, and more than one billion individuals are mobilized for action every Earth Day.
But although great progress has been made since Earth Day made its debut in 1970, there is still much work to be done.