In 1970, Sen. Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, as a way to bring attention to environmental threats that were going unchecked. That same year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was created.
Approximately 20 million Americans across the country held demonstrations against the deterioration of the environment. While many believed these rallies would just be a flash in the pan, there was a fundamental mind shift from that day.
53 years later, Earth Day is recognized as the largest secular observance in the world with more than a billion people using the day to take action to change human behavior and create global, national and local policy changes. According to Google Trends, the search term ‘Earth Day’ reaches peak popularity in searches the few days leading up to April 22 and several days afterward.
While it may seem that with over half a century passed, the day has become ineffective or as trivial as National Jelly Bean Day (also on April 22), Earth Day still serves as a focal point to review how far we’ve come and where we still need to improve.
As stewards of the environment every day, Earth Day is an opportunity to reiterate to your clients and your team your commitment to protecting the Earth.
Ways to Celebrate
Use this day to engage with your community through service projects or educate them on the environmental benefits of a well-cared-for landscape.
The sky is the limit with the types of projects you could do around Earth Day, but below are some suggestions to run by your team to see what resonates with them.
- Install a pollinator garden at a school or other public location
- Do a trash pickup at a park or nature preserve
- Host an education day for local youth
- Have a plant giveaway for clients
- Create a vegetable garden with your staff
Sustainable Actions to Consider
Earth Day is also a time to self-reflect and decide if there are ways you can increase sustainable practices in your operations. Every lawn and landscape company approaches this a little differently, so don’t be afraid to explore an option that’s not frequently considered.
“We put our money where our mouth is,” says Kyle Cahill, founder of Grow and Company, based in Houston, Texas. “We don’t just say we want to be stewards of the environment; we set actionable and measurable goals that we monitor year over year to show what we can do. And I’ll be the first to admit, we have a long way to go and there are opportunities where we can be better!”
Don’t feel like you have to make large shifts or do everything all at once. No change is too small. Having a sustainability committee can help identify areas to improve and the benefits and drawbacks of making a change. Below are some of the various sustainable practices you could consider implementing:
- Go paper free in the office
- Add solar panels to your headquarters
- Install bioswales and rain gardens at your facilities
- Recycle yard waste into compost
- Deploy electric equipment
- Convert mowers to propane
- Include more native plants in your landscape designs
- Offer organic services to clients
“I think if you aren’t looking ahead and making environmentally conscious changes, you’re going to fall behind with your competition,” says Bob Grover, LIC, owner of Pacific Landscape Management, based in Hillsboro, Oregon. “But it’s also just the right thing to do. Most of us in the green industry really do care about the needs of our planet and we all need to take a hard look at our operations to show the world we really do.”