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A few days ago my six-year-old daughter had a talk with me about Earth Day. Whales eat plastic and then they get sick and die she told me. We agreed that this is a tragedy. She proceeded to tell me all about Earth Day, which she learned about in Kindergarten. Because of Earth Day, millions of children in classrooms all around the world are talking about how to help the planet. Maybe you're talking about it at work or at home.
This Earth Day we have a lot of campaigns to choose from. So I've narrowed it down to the three I believe could be the most useful for climate change drawdown and waste reduction while still helping our economy thrive.
Trees for the Earth is an Earth Day campaign that encourages combating climate change through reforestation. The Canopy Project plants one tree for each dollar donated. The goal is to plant one tree for every person on earth (7.8 billion) in honor of Earth Day's 50th anniversary in 2020. A lot more trees could have a big impact on climate change.
It's not just an Earth Day campaign. Earlier this month a group of activists published an open letter in The Guardian urging governments to employ natural solutions like reforestation to combat climate change. This is an environmental movement I hope more people will consider. The benefits could be huge.
The Citizens' Climate Lobby is a US-based lobby group working to put a price on carbon pollution. The lobby group proposes charging a carbon pollution fee on fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. The fee would be used to discourage carbon pollution by making it more expensive than cleaner energy options. Today, it's cheaper to get energy from fossil fuel-based energy since we're not paying for negative externalities like carbon pollution.
That fee collected would be re-distributed to Americans to spend as they wish while there's a market adjustment as we transition from fossil fuel-based energy to clean and renewable energy sources. There would also be a border carbon adjustment to protect U.S. manufacturers and jobs.
In order to transition to a clean and circular economy, companies that create pollution need to pay for that waste and pollution. If they don't, we pay for it in other ways. Climate change gets the most attention these days, but air pollution is linked to health issues like asthma.
To learn more read about the importance of putting a price on waste and pollution, read How carbon pricing could simplify everything.
Protecting and planting trees and transitioning to clean and renewable energy are by far some of the most effective campaigns to support this Earth Day. But we also need to transition toward a circular economy. If you're new to the circular economy movement, here are the basics.
Our current economy is linear. We take resources from nature, we use them, then we throw them away. Most of what we buy either ends up as waste in a landfill or pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Instead of wasting those resources, we need to find ways to design out waste, use resources efficiently, and regenerate natural systems. This is what the circular economy movement is all about.
Waste isn't good for the economy or the environment. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Which is why we need innovation and a collective mind-shift away from planned obsolescence and toward resource efficiency. This concept appeals to everyone I've talked to from Kindergartners to CEOs.
You might think CEOs and corporate leaders would be good at coming up with creative and innovative solutions to deal with waste. Not necessarily. In my experience, the Kindergartners are hands down the best at coming up with ways to use wasted resources. So no matter which Earth Day campaign you choose to support, consider asking the next generation about why they care about Earth Day, and what kinds of solutions they could offer. Drop a comment to let me know what you come up with! I'd love to hear your ideas.
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