World Environment Day, which the UN first established in 1972, urges all of us to protect our natural surroundings.
The stunning facts? An estimated 7 million people die each year due to causes related to air pollution, with a majority occurring in the Asia-Pacific region. This day, which falls on June 5, encourages worldwide activism. That means everything from littering to climate change. World Environment Day is both a global celebration and platform for public outreach.
China, which now owns half the world’s electric vehicles and 99 percent of the world’s electric buses, is hosting the 2019 event. “The country has demonstrated tremendous leadership in tackling air pollution domestically,” says Acting Head of UN Environment Joyce Msuya. “It can now help spur the world to greater action.”
- Make a commitment to recycle
It might seem like a basic tip, but are you really taking every possible opportunity to recycle? Next time you're thinking about throwing that piece of paper in the trash because a recycling bin isn't accessible, think twice. Holding a plastic container and too lazy to see if it's one of the biodegradable kinds? Open up your smartphone and look it up! Everyone's responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions— including you.
- Plant a tree
Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark. Placed strategically around a single-family home, they can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent. By reducing the energy demand for cooling our houses, we reduce carbon dioxide and other pollution emissions from power plants.
Anyone can volunteer, and volunteering can make a difference to the whole community. Get out of your comfort zone by volunteering for the National Park Service, or stay local by volunteering at your farmers market. Any way you choose to participate, you'll feel the positive impact of getting out of the house and caring for the planet.
- It reconnects us to nature
Sometimes we forget just how much natural systems support our own well-being. But we're part of nature, and we depend on it. So today's the perfect occasion to go out and enjoy your country’s national parks, and celebrate the vital relationship.
- It raises awareness
More and more people are starting to understand that we need to sustainably manage our planet’s resources and ecosystems. However, that belief is far from universal. That's why World Environment Day is so important: it provides an occasion to raise awareness and teach friends and family that the physical environment is fragile and indispensable. But before you begin promoting environmental awareness in your own community, make sure that you have a thorough understanding of environmental issues yourself. There's always more to learn!
- It encourages us to take action
The environment has become increasingly polluted with contaminants and toxins, and these have a harmful impact on our health. They can cause respiratory diseases and cancer—and that's just for starters. By raising awareness of the issues with the air that sustains us, World Environment Day inspires us to do something about it and fix the environment we can't live without.