Earth Day marks the birth of the modern environmental movement that began in 1970. Celebrated each year on April 22, Earth Day is recognized by more than a billion people worldwide as a day of action — a day to change human behavior and create lasting policy change at the local, national, and global level.
The threats posed by climate change become more apparent every day. Temperatures are rising, precipitation rates are growing, droughts, heatwaves, and hurricanes have become more intense, and sea levels are rising.
It can be easy to look at our changing climate and think “Okay, but what does that have to do with me?”. The truth is, our health is directly tied to the health of our planet. To put it simply, our lives depend on Earth’s biodiversity — the water we drink, air we breathe, food we eat, and even the medications we take are all dependent on a healthy environment.
Infectious disease is another existential threat that is directly tied to the health of the planet. Throughout the pandemic, we saw how quickly a life-threatening disease could impact every part of the globe. The global health challenges we face today stand to be exacerbated by declining biodiversity and continued destruction of our ecosystems. Take malaria, for example. This infectious disease is spread by mosquitoes that help transmit the disease to humans. As forests are destroyed, mosquito diversity dwindles, with only the strongest species surviving. Often, the strongest mosquito left standing is the one that’s best at transmitting malaria.
Think about how some of our medicines are produced: plant biodiversity plays a role in the development of drugs that keep us healthy. When we lose certain species of plants, we also lose the opportunity to discover new drugs in the future.
Earth Day presents a great opportunity to take individual action, but wouldn’t it be better to get your team together to celebrate instead?
Here are five ways to recognize Earth Day as a team:
- Organize an informal no-meat challenge for your company — make the challenge last for a day or a week. Share recipes for plant-based meals so employees can stock up on what they need or offer a one-time reimbursement for a meal at a vegetarian or vegan restaurant.
- Partner with a local organization that’s helping to make our physical world a better place. Give employees a couple PTO hours to volunteer for a cause that resonates with them, whether that’s gardening at home, planting trees, doing a beachside trash pickup, or working a shift at their neighborhood’s food co-op.
- Fundraise! Set a matching limit for employees who are interested in donating to an environmental organization.
- Encourage small, individual green acts. Large-scale action may be limited in our current virtual world, but you can always urge employees to carry a reusable bag or limit their use of plastic utensils.
- Host a trivia night (or midday lunch) for employees. Test their knowledge of everything from upcycled foods to environmental literacy. Don’t forget to brainstorm a green prize for the trivia winner.