Earth Day is marking 52 years of environmental action in 2022, urging everyone at every level to tackle the climate crisis.
Every year on April 22, one billion people from more than 190 countries take part in Earth Day activities and demonstrations, guided by a theme to drive change.
This year’s theme is ‘Invest In Our Planet’, calling on individuals, businesses and the government to commit to a sustainable future.
The time is now
Healthy Land and Water, an independent organisation committed to protecting South-East Queensland’s environment, said this year’s theme and the recent floods are a stark reminder that Australia needs to take action before disaster strikes.
The people behind the organisation believe we need to focus on investing in preparedness and proactive flood mitigation, rather than relying on disaster response payments, to help regions withstand the effects of climate change.
Acting CEO Dr Andrew O’Neill said investing in measures that reduce flood risk is three to five times more cost effective than trying to repair damage after an extreme flood event, as recently seen in parts of Queensland and New South Wales.
“It’s heartbreaking watching the devastation that has unfolded – on people, their livelihoods and our beautiful environs. The only thing comforting is knowing that we now have the knowledge to do something about it,” Dr O’Neill said in a statement to TND.
“We know that active and targeted investments in flood preparedness could greatly increase resilience and reduce the impact of future extreme events – and let’s be candid – more extreme events are on the cards as a result of climate change.”
Dr O’Neill said the time to invest is now.
“The longer we wait, the more difficult – and more expensive – it will be to mitigate and adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change.”
Doing our bit
Fortunately we aren’t helpless. We can make positive environmental changes in our everyday lives.
Earth Day has shared 52 tips and suggested actions.
These range from eating less meat to investing in sustainable fashion.
Every year, Australians consume on average 27 kilograms of new clothing per person, and throw out 23 kilograms.
One solution to this textile waste is hiring clothes instead of buying new.
Bernadette Olivier is the CEO and co-founder of the upmarket dress hire website The Volte.
Ms Olivier said hiring clothes offsets on average 19 kilograms of carbon emissions and saves 95 litres of water.
“It’s all about sharing, rather than that endless consumption, because every time you rent an item, it offsets your carbon footprint. We’ve had some beautiful Zimmermann dresses rented 32 times in a year,” Ms Olivier told TND.
“We’re really asking for a consumer shift away from fast fashion and towards seeing fashion as an investment.”
Disrupting the normal
Another way people can create change is by using their voices, according to Australian environmental organisation Planet Ark.
This can be through conversations about the environment with family and friends, contacting local businesses and politicians to request positive change, or supporting organisations that do right by the environment.
“It is crucial to remember that there is still time to act on climate change and that the actions we take now will have a huge impact not only on our own future, but also for future generations,” said Liam Taylor, head of communications at Planet Ark.
“How each of us chooses to act has a ripple effect in our communities, on our politicians and, ultimately, on the future world we create.”
Dr Franzisca Weder, a senior lecturer at The University of Queensland who focuses on sustainability communication, recommends we “disrupt the normal” to celebrate Earth Day.
If you usually drive to the shops, for example, consider riding a bike instead.
“Disrupt other people’s perception of what is normal as well, because then you wake them up and kind of cause this tiny bit of irritation,” Dr Weder explained.
“Even if it’s on a low scale, it’s really important to disrupt and keep up these conversations so you can say, ‘I tried it, I went out of my comfort zone, this is how I felt and I probably can do it again’.”
To Dr Weder, “Everyone can be an agent of change”.