For those slightly confused, April 22, 2015, is Earth Day, which is the same around the world. Earth Hour was March 28, 2015; it is generally the last Saturday in March.

Earth Hour adapts itself to the local sunrise/sundown times. In Canada, Earth Hour was from 20:30 to 21:30. You may hear about Earth Month as well. Earth Month is more or less a loose term to extend Earth Day activities throughout the entire month and focus on sustainability challenges.

A fun fact

Earth Day will be 45 years old this year. Actually, the first Earth Day was celebrated also on April 22, but in 1970.

In these past 45 years, many non-governmental, private, and public organisations have worked hard developing the science to understand how our planet’s climate is changing – what is normal historically speaking and what seems like a course change.

Today, via the International Panel on Climate Change’s network of thousands of scientists and observers, we better understand and know the planet is warming up. The IPCC has worked on strategies for climate change mitigation and devised a series of concrete actions that can be taken to lessen the environmental impact on the planet of products or services that humans want and need.  

Here are three locally actionable actions we can do. Make it fun and challenging; adapt as you see fit.

Planting trees

As publishers, our staff seems always well aware of our use of newsprint and its direct and indirect impact on our tree canopies.

I have yet to meet someone who didn’t care about trees. For many, they represent peacefulness and hope. In plain technical terms, they are the reason we have oxygen; without them we simply couldn’t breathe.

Tree planting, depending on your region, generally happens either in the spring or the fall. You can plan your activity as individuals or as a group.

  • Individual: Encourage staff to make it official and pledge to plant a tree! There are multiple sites allowing you to do this. ForestNATION is one.

  • Group: Many local organisations have tree planting days. Gather a few staff together and join one. You can also gather funding and contribute as a group to plant trees. For every dollar contributed, one tree gets planted. Join in the efforts of The Canopy Project on Earth Day.

All of the above contribute to the Plant A Billion Trees campaign.

Reducing your carbon footprint

When one thinks about our business of producing the newspaper and delivering it to each home (as we do in North America), it’s not the most green-friendly business! It is energy and transportation intensive.

Transportation and building maintenance are two of the most important contributors to carbon emissions.

For most developed countries, transportation accounts for just over a third of all greenhouse gas emissions and housing (heating/cooling) accounts for just as much. The variations can be significant between countries depending on the type of energy used.

Here are two easy activities you can promote to foster action and help understanding:

  • Transportation: Go greener for one day! Take public transportation, bike, walk, or carpool. Do it on Earth Day to add pizazz. For those who want to push further, extend the activity to the week of April 20-24.

  • Heating/cooling: Turn down/up the thermostat by 1C (1.8 F) for a day or week and see if you really feel the difference. If possible in your area, do it at the office level.

Use the Carbon Footprint calculator to show the difference with your activities. Calculate “current status” and “new behaviour.” Add in everyone who participated and see the impact your group can have. It’s the obvious “domino effect” organisers are after. It looks impossible but really, it’s not.

The goal is to establish new behaviours. Can you take the challenge of changing your behaviour?