by Connie Oswald Stofko
- The Buffalo River doesn’t start on fire any more.
- Rarely do you see litter tossed out of car windows.
- And you have most likely seen a local garden with one or more native plants in it.
Those are just three changes that I’ve seen in Western New York since the first Earth Day in 1970.
These changes didn’t come quickly. They didn’t happen easily.
But they happened.
They happened because people cared.
And a person did something.
They spoke up. They changed other people’s minds. They changed their own habits.
Take the example of trash. It used to be common to toss your pop can out the car window when you were done with it. Some people didn’t like like littering, but what could you do? A public service campaign helped to give people a voice. Attitudes changed. Littering became, at best, rude, and there was less of it.
Another thing that helped to decrease littering was the bottle bill enacted in 1982 in New York State. Many people hated the idea of having to pay an extra nickel for every bottle and can of pop or beer. Nobody was going to return those cans, they said. It would never work.
But it did work. People return their bottles and get their nickel back. Or someone else picks up their cans, gets the nickel, and the aluminum gets recycled, keeping it out of a landfill.
Then there’s the case of water pollution. No, we’re not done yet. But groups such as Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper–with help from regular people like you– are making great progress.
Today we add climate change to our list of environmental issues. Yes, it’s a problem. A big, big problem.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t fix it. We should at least give it a try.
So where can you start?
Try this: Earth Day Challenge for Erie County and WNY. It has oodles of suggestions for individuals and families.
There are lots of Earth Day activities listed on our Events page, too.
But we need to make every day Earth Day. Throughout the year, I’ll share ideas on how we gardeners can make the world a better place to live.
We’ve made so much progress. Why stop now?