This past Friday, one billion people in over 193 countries celebrated the 52nd annual Earth Day, making it the largest secular holiday in the world. It’s a day marked to remember and recognize the importance of environmental protection, sustainability, and restoration of our damaged ecosystems.

When we watch the news and see the disasters unfolding, it’s easy to feel helpless. We witness the devastation of the rainforests, oil spills, polluted air, and plant and animal species on the brink of extinction. We see uncontrollable wildfires, melting ice caps, and landfills filled with plastics and wastes that will outlive our children and our great-grandchildren. Humanity has done a very poor job at protecting and treasuring our Earth. So, how do we help? Where does one possibly begin?

Like anything, start small. Commit to making tiny, daily choices that will have a positive impact. And then encourage your family and friends to follow suit. Your decisions may feel like a tiny drop in the bucket, but those drops are what fill oceans.

Here are some easy ideas to get you started:

  • Start carrying a reusable water bottle; in America alone, 35 BILLION water bottles a year are thrown out.
  • Bring your own reusable shopping totes instead of plastic ones from the grocery store.
  • Skip meat 1x a week; it would save over 1.4 billion animals from being raised for meat. And when you consider it takes approximately 1,500-2,000 gallons of water to make just one pound of beef, that can have a HUGE impact.
  • Switch your lightbulbs to incandescent. They are more expensive initially, but you won’t be switching them out as often, so it saves you money and makes your home more energy-efficient.
  • Recycle! We know about glass and paper, but there’s a lot more to it. Check out this article for 20 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle.
  • Rethink how you travel. Do you have to fly, or can you take a train? Do you have to drive, or can you walk or take a bike?
  • Composting. Use scraps or unused fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, eggshells, lawn weeds, shredded newspaper, grass clippings, etc., to make your own nutrient-filled fertilizer that can be put back into your soil.

If you’re looking for further inspiration and ready to make a difference on a larger scale, consider donating or joining some of the following non-profits. We’ve selected a few, Black-led or Black-founded organizations that are making a significant impact on protecting our planet.

The Green Belt Movement: Founded by Professor Wangari Maathai of Nyeri, Kenya, in 1977. She is known for her work in human democracy and environmental conservation, and the GBM empowers communities (particularly women) to conserve the environment and improve livelihoods. 

Planetwalk: Founded by John Francis, his environmental work began in 1971 after witnessing an oil spill in the San Francisco Bay. This inspired him to give up motorized vehicles, and he began to walk everywhere, leading him to be known as the Planetwalker. Today, its mission is to promote environmental education and responsibility and world peace and cooperation.

Greening Youth Foundation: Founded by Angelou Chiles of New Jersey, its mission is to “engage under-represented youth and young adults, while connecting them to the outdoors and careers in conversation.”

In closing, we want to share the poem “Remember” by Joy Harjo. We hope this inspires you to take seriously the call we each have to protect our Earth.

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.

Remember, by Joy Harjo