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United States

My First Earth Day

Person picking up litter out of a stream
Person picking up litter out of a stream

I can trace back my roots to when I became an environmentalist, and it was the year that the EPA was founded. In 1970, I was a fifth grade student in Sister Maureen’s class at St. Joseph’s School in Tucson, Arizona. For the very first Earth Day, our class won a nationwide contest sponsored by Scholastic to raise environmental awareness. We wrote letters to officials, and I remember changing the words in Simon and Garfunkel’s hit, “A Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” to “A Bridge Over Polluted Waters.” Yes, it was before copyright infringement regulations and Weird Al Yankovic, but we were devastated at the time by images of rivers on fire, along with dead fish and birds on shorelines. What we were seeing at the time was not something we wanted to accept as normal, and we wanted to see change.


Earth Day Storybook Trail

Elisabeth Wilkins

Like many of us, Clean Community Coordinator Elisabeth Wilkins from Virginia, US, had to quickly reimagine Earth Day 2020 plans and adapt to community restrictions due to COVID-19. Originally planning to host a library Teach-In event, Elisabeth redirected funds to install a storybook trail at Woodville Park.

“Park goers follow the signs around a short path to read an environmentally-themed picture book, page by page. It will be up for at least a year, with the story changing out each month. It’s a great opportunity for kids of all ages, and their families/friends, to share an environmental story together and learn a little something, while getting outside for some healthy sunshine!” 

By partnering with local partners like libraries and conservation groups, Elisabeth was able to create an interactive, outdoor resource for students to connect with nature and build literacy skills!  


Sustainable Forest

Ambatobe village
The Canopy Project™
Kids in Ambatobe planting trees

Coordinated by a Malagasy team from the city of Antalaha, Madagascar, the Canopy Project has helped the village of Ambatobe plant 70,000 trees in 2020. The restored canopy cover will help stabilize and regenerate local soil and protect the nearby riverbank from serious floods and cyclones.

Thanks to the restored trees, the entire Ambatobe community will benefit. 110 small-scale farmers and their families have worked to create a local cooperative to protect and steward the reforested area. They are working collaboratively to tend to the growing trees and to harvest the fruits, coffee and cloves that some of the planted species will provide. The cooperative will use funds raised from crops to help purchase solar panels, manage irrigation and reclaim any excess product from the harvesting process for use in their gardens.

Team emptying canoes


Cleanup for Ghandi Jayanti

Clean Ganga River Campaign

The Great Global Cleanup™

On the auspicious occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, the team of Swachh Ganga River Bachao Abhiyan collected plastic waste from the Chandrabhaga River for the Triveni Ghat Sanitation Campaign. After the cleanup, 500 cloth bags were distributed.

Clean Ganga River Campaign

Every day, the river becomes more contaminated with domestic organic and inorganic waste, including clothing and garbage. To mitigate this, a camp has been organized to collect old clothes at Triveni Ghat.

The Great Global Cleanup


Cyclists With a Mission

Neelu Mishra

Neelu Mishra and cycling team

International athlete Neelu Mishra is leading a cycling team. It is to spread a message to save our environment by reducing our carbon footprint. VESS India and District Environment Committee are also part of it. This initiative has been started under the aegis of Smart City Varanasi. Last week, Municipal Commissioner of Nagar Nigam Varanasi and District Health Officer Nagar Nigamalso took part in it and covered around 16 kilometers by cycle.

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