The first Earth Day, on 22 April 1970, inspired 20 million Americans from all walks of life to protest against the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development and to raise awareness of the human impact on our climate.
Forty-nine years later, Earth Day is a global annual event, with more than 1 billion people in 192 countries taking part.
Each year, Earth Day aims to bring about political action and civic participation, all in the name of the environment. It is a day where individuals, activists, non-profits, companies and governments come together to celebrate and preserve our planet and its resources.
In truth, the main goal of Earth Day isn’t about a single day; it’s about inspiring global, year-round action to protect our planet. In fact, Earth Day is in part to thank for the growing global environmental consciousness we see today. It has led to banning single-use plastic use, global clean ups and reforestation efforts.
This growing environmental consciousness has also helped us connect our food choices to climate change. The mass production of meat, dairy and eggs has an enormous impact on our planet. The food system is responsible for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, of which up to 80% are connect to livestock production!
This is compounded by a growing population. There are currently 7.6 billion people on the planet. By 2050, there will be almost 10 billion. We need to ensure we can feed everyone with healthy and affordable food. A recent study in the journal ‘Science’, found that animal products provide just 18% of calories but take up 83% of farmland. The same study shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world!
Earth Day Network understands the importance our food choices have on climate change. For the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, EDN will tackle these issues head on through a new campaign: Foodprints for the Future. Through the campaign, EDN will enhance literacy around our food choices and create a resounding call to connect plant-based food choices with climate solutions. Foodprints for the Future aims to create low-impact, healthy, accessible and affordable food for all, and plant-based eating is integral to this.
You are already likely to be doing your bit! Spread the message and ask local restaurants to plan a plant-based Earth Day menu or challenge your community to do the same.