Given the sheer amount of quirky holidays in existence, it’s no wonder so many people forget about the ones that are truly important. Green holidays serve to promote awareness of the issues affecting our environment and the actions that need to be taken in order to preserve it. Celebrating and observing, say, Arbor Day is an excellent way to bond with fellow green geeks who share your concern for the Earth while actually making the world a greener place. Here are eight essential green holidays.
1. World Wetlands Day: February 2nd marks the day nearly 40 years ago that The International Convention on Wetlands was signed, creating an international effort to conserve the world’s valuable wetlands. So why are they important? According to the WWD site, the poor management of wetlands results in the deaths of three million people worldwide per year, mainly due to poor drinking water. On the other hand, swamps can remove nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, keeping groundwater clean. It’s imperative that we do our part to keep these natural resources clean and functioning.
2. World Forestry Day: March 21st is the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, the autumnal equinox in the Southern Hemisphere and World Forestry Day, a reminder of the gifts bestowed upon the world by its lush forests. Awareness is given to forestry production, protection and recreation, highlighting not only what forests offer to humans, but also their function to the diverse groups of organisms that live beneath their canopies.
3. World Water Day: World Water Day falls on the day after World Forestry Day, emphasizing the impact of water on the world’s population. The WWD website asserts that one billion people lack clean drinking water and sanitation remains a problem for two-fifths of the world’s population. The day is intended to draw attention to existing solutions that must be undertaken by world political organizations.
4. Earth Day: Earth Day is the most recognized green holiday in the world. On April 22, 2010, it celebrated its 40th birthday with a focus on climate change as the World People’s Conference on Climate Change occurred on the same day. Through the years, it has evolved to encompass the myriad of environmental issues facing the world, including the goals to reduce carbon emissions, encourage sustainable consumption and support green jobs that fit into a green economy.
5. Arbor Day: Twenty years before he became the country’s third Secretary of Agriculture, J. Sterling Morton founded Arbor Day with the hope of bringing attention to the value of trees. The national holiday is observed on the final Friday of April, though many states have designated their own respective dates that occur during more weather-friendly months. Of course, the primary activity is tree planting, which is a fun and worthwhile group activity for people of all ages.
6. World Environment Day: Established on June 5, 1972, during the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, World Environment Day brings awareness to the environment and stimulates action from political organizations around the globe. Each year, a different theme is celebrated and a new location hosts the main events. For example, “Many Species. One Planet. One Future” was the theme in 2010 and Rwanda served as the global host.
7. World Oceans Day: World Oceans Day is officially recognized by the UN, occurring on June 8th. Worldwide events take place in locations such as schools, universities, zoos, aquariums and museums, where people young and old are educated on ocean conservation. Like World Environment Day, WOD celebrates a different theme each year in order to shed light on a new topic. In 2010, the theme was “Oceans of Life,” focusing on the oceans’ great diversity of life and its contributions to our lives - like oxygen, food and medicine.
8. America Recycles Day: Each November 15th is devoted to promoting recycling programs throughout the country. It’s a day of knowledge and action, when communities come together in an effort to keep the environment healthy and beautiful. People of all ages are encouraged to organize and attend events in order to spread the word. America Recycles Day is particularly helpful for novice recyclers who are curious about which products they should recycle and how they should do it.