This year will mark 46 years since the very first Earth Day celebration which mobilized the public to unite in support of our planet and ignited the environmental movement. The theme for Earth Day 2016 is “Trees for the Earth” (#Trees4earth). The goal is to plant 7.8 billion trees, one for every person, by the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2020.
Over 15 billion trees are lost every year because of land development, deforestation, and bad forest management. To put it into perspective, 15 billion trees is equivalent to around 48 football fields every minute.
Trees combat climate change by absorbing the carbon dioxide (CO2) building up in our atmosphere and releasing oxygen back into the air. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced from driving the average car 26,000 miles and provides enough oxygen for 18 people.
Trees make our air cleaner by filtering out pollutant gases and particulates, trapping them with their leaves and bark. The dust level in the air can be as much as 75 percent lower on the sheltered side of the tree compared to the windward side.
Trees reduce air temperature. Three trees placed strategically around a single-family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent. Along with providing shade, further cooling occurs when water evaporates from the leaf surface. It has been found that areas with heavy tree cover are often 9 degrees cooler than urban areas.
Trees save water and help prevent water pollution. Shade from trees slows water evaporation, allowing lawns to absorb more moisture. Trees also reduce surface water runoff from storms, thus decreasing soil erosion and the accumulation of sediment and pollutants in our streams and oceans.
Trees create an ecosystem to provide habitat and food for birds and other animals.
Trees have also been known to boost property value, increase business traffic, reduce violence as well as heal and reenergize.
Other Ways to Help the Planet
Sign the #ParisAgreement Climate Petition. At the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, over 190 countries agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This Earth Day, world leaders have been invited to the United Nations to sign the agreement, and the petition will urge them to keep their word.
Go Meatless on Mondays. The meat industry accounts for 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, emitting over 36 billion tons of greenhouse gases annually. In fact, the amount of energy used to create one calorie of meat is almost twenty times the amount of energy as one plant calorie.
Reduce your food waste and start a compost. Over one third of all food produced around the world for human consumption is wasted every year. Only buy what you need and freeze or give away any excess. Recycle your produce scraps by composting and returning nutrients back to the soil.
End junk mail. The average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail every year and 44% of that mail goes straight to the landfill unopened. Millions of trees are chopped down to create this junk mail, 28 billion gallons of water are wasted to produce and recycle junk mail, and the creation and shipping of junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars each year. What if you could prevent this completely and declutter your mailbox by removing your name from mailing lists? Find out more here.
Go solar. According to the EPA, the average household emits approximately 20 metric tons of carbon pollution annually. A typical residential solar system will eliminate 3-4 tons of carbon emissions every year, roughly the equivalent of planting over 100 trees.
Earth Day 2016 Events in Hawaii
Enjoy these Earth Day festivities near you.
UH Mānoa Earth Day
Promotes existing sustainability efforts on-campus and seeks to inspire students, faculty, staff, and administration to become more involved in environmental work out in the community.
When: Friday, April 22 from 10:00am to 4:00pm
Where: UH Mānoa’s Campus Center
Mauna to Makai (Earth Day)
The Waikiki Aquarium’s 9th annual Earth Day celebration provides educational activities for both children and adults and focuses on the impact we make on water sources.
When: Saturday, April 23
Where: The Waikiki Aquarium
Cost: Free admission
Earth Day Cleanup and Ultimate Sand Sifter Competition
Volunteers check in at Waimanalo Beach Park at 9:00am and, from there, head to nearby locations to remove debris. After the clean up, the Ultimate Sand Sifter Competition invites participants to come up with a solution to remove microplastic marine debris. Winners receive a $1,000 prize and all entrants get a goodie bag.
When: Saturday, April 30
9:00am – Check in
9:30am to 12:00pm – Clean up
12:00pm to 2:00pm – Live music, games, and more
Where: Waimanalo Beach Park
2016 Maui Earth Day Festival
Celebrate the land and come together as a community to enjoy live music, information booths, a silent auction, healthy food booths, eco-friendly products, and a healing zone of massage therapists, intuitive healers and body workers. A keiki zone of music and games as well as a petting zoo and horse back riding will be available for children.
When: Sunday, April 17 from 10:00am to 6:00pm
2:00 to 3:00pm – Inspirational educational hour on “How to co-create a healthy future for Maui? Challenges and Solutions”
2:00pm – Keiki parade
Where: Ke‘opuolani Park Amphitheater, behind the Maui Nui Botanical Garden, across from the War Memorial Stadium
Cost: $7 entrance fee, kids free
Earth Day Rising VI
Celebrate the earth featuring workshops and panels on sustainable living, agriculture, and conservation, keiki on the farm activities, seed and plant giveaway, clothing swap tent, free county compost bin distribution, vendor and info booths, music, and food.
When: Sunday, April 24
Where: Malama Kauai Community Farm in Kalihiwai Ridge
Cost: $15 advanced donation online, $25 donation at door, keiki 16 and under free