How Earth Day benefits our world


Aja Schiller

A tree standing in a botanical garden in Beijing, China.

Earth Day was founded in 1970 and falls on April 22 every year. Earth Day is a holiday to honor environmental education in hopes of raising awareness around pollution. Earth Day has currently been observed for 50 years, but the way that people honor Earth Day has significantly evolved. This evolution has turned Earth Day festivities into superficial social media posts and insignificant social events.

This 2020, most people were at home (hopefully), practicing social distancing when Earth Day rolled around, which left little room for celebrations. Some people got outside into nature, going on hikes, bike rides, etc. Instagram, as well as other social media platforms, were flooded with the annual “Happy Earth Day” posts, a superficial task that takes a maximum of five minutes.

Posting on social media, while it does help raise awareness toward Earth Day, doesn’t do much else other than shout into the void, “Look! A tree! Pretty!” According to, the average amount of time that a plastic bag is used is 12 minutes, a mere fraction of the total amount of time that the plastic bag will be on the Earth. One way that people can really try to help the Earth with minimal effort is to forgo single use plastic, or if getting one is unavoidable, save them for another trip. Just because plastic bags aren’t specifically labeled as reusable, doesn’t mean they can’t be reused. People have taken a lot of different alternative routes to help out as best they can such as not buying packaging with single use plastics, buying reusable water bottles, etc, which helps if a person has the money to make these choices and if they make these choices consistently.

Earth Day is a pat on the back, telling us that we’re “trying our best.” Pollution is a systematic problem that begins with monopolies in the economy. Big corporations are both the cause and the solution to pollution. There are few consumer choices in the market because so many different brands funnel their funds back to one major company. There’s often no choice for people living on a tight budget, unable to afford the more expensive but eco-friendly brands.

The way for the Earth to be truly honored would be for systematic change to occur and factories to cut down on their fossil fuel usage, but the only way that would happen is for consumers to make the right choice in the grocery store. As already established, sometimes people don’t have the monetary means, forcing them to buy what is affordable, so truly, the root of our environmental problems lies in our economic imbalances.

Celebrating Earth Day with compostable confetti, an Instagram post, or a hike, helps ease people’s minds, but we need to think bigger and stop seeking comfort in the arbitrary aspects of Earth Day.