back view of man viewing mountain lake

On April 22, the world will celebrate the 49th Earth Day. Nearly 50 years of environmental activism, and the world seems to be in worse shape than ever. The EPA is trying to roll back decades of environmental regulations, the ocean is choking in microplastic, and the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere topped 400 ppm four years ago. It’s easy to get discouraged. But the environmental movement has made significant accomplishments.

A History of Victory

Since Earth Day was founded in 1970, hard-fought environmental gains have been won over and over again.

In 1972, DDT was banned, and other pesticides subjected to more stringent regulations. In the decades since, these changes have allowed populations of bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and other endangered birds to recover. More than a decade of activism led the International Whaling Commission to adopt a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, marking the first serious attempt by world leaders to respond to climate change — with or without the U.S. — and laying the groundwork for future, more effective actions. The Energy Independence and Security Act resulted in tougher new fuel economy standards, including the phase-in of standards for SUVs and even large commercial vehicles. Even the mostly anti-environmental current administration has extended protections to over 2 million acres of land across the country.

The choices individuals make — as activists, citizens, and consumers — can and do make a difference. Earth911 is here to help you find your own shade of green. This Earth Day and every day we are here to help you shop according to your values, adopt a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, and drive environmental changes for the better.

woman shopping in grocery store
Our purchasing choices can influence manufacturers to offer greener products. Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

How and Buy to Make a Difference

Buying nothing and recycling everything is an unattainable goal. But the perfect should not be the enemy of the good. As long as people need to buy things, Earth911 is here to help you make the greenest consumer choices. Thanks in large part to consumer demand, dishwashers have improved a lot. In the 1990s, the average dishwasher used 10 gallons of water per cycle. Today, some use as little as 2 gallons. Traditional mattresses contain a miasma of chemicals, from flame-retardants to formaldehyde and mercury. We found sustainable mattress companies that have risen to the challenge of making a clean, Earth-friendly bed.

It’s not always easy to find out who makes your roofing material, let alone whether they practice recycling or work to minimize their environmental impact. We’ve researched roofing materials and manufacturers to make buying an eco-friendly roof easier. Insulation lasts decades and makes a home more energy efficient. But it can contain potent greenhouse gases or release chemicals that degrade indoor air quality. We looked at some of the top insulation products on the market to see which save the most energy, promote healthy indoor air quality, and are the most sustainable.

bee on flower collecting pollen
We can take actions to help protect endangered species. Photo: katja from Pixabay

Protecting Our Species

Earth Day is about raising awareness of all the environmental issues facing our planet. That’s a lot to take in all at once, so each year, the Earth Day Network picks a focus topic. Last year, the focus was on plastic pollution. This year, starting on April 22, the focus on protecting biodiversity and raising awareness of how human activity is causing species to go extinct at rates not seen since the dinosaurs stopped roaming the earth.

Earth911 has some helpful advice to avoid being part of the problem. Thanks to CITES, the international treaty spearheaded by the U.S. in the 1970s, selling products made from endangered species illegal worldwide. It’s still possible for travelers to accidentally fall afoul of this law, so we help you avoid purchasing problematic souvenirs.

We’ve also looked into the status of some important endangered species and how you can help protect them. Zoos may be a surprising link to species preservation and climate stabilization, but individuals can help protect at-risk and endangered species, too. We have the advice to help you protect monarch butterflies on their annual migration, keep bees pollinating in your backyard, and even make a difference to endangered tigers half a world away.

Earth Day and Every Day

For 49 years, Earth Day has served as a reminder to renew our focus on the environment and do better. Check out Earth911’s idea for creating your own Earth Decade plan to reduce major areas of your carbon footprint each year. It’s a sane and affordable approach to lightening your impact on the planet.

We will keep finding all the most up-to-date information on recycling and consumer choices to help you live the greener life you want. Together, we can make a difference by Earth Day 50.

Feature image by Free-Photos from Pixabay


By Gemma Alexander

Gemma Alexander has an M.S. in urban horticulture and a backyard filled with native plants. After working in a genetics laboratory and at a landfill, she now writes about the environment, the arts and family. See more of her writing here.