Guerilla Earth Day Tactics

BY SHANNON BLANKINSHIP,
Outreach Director for the St. Johns Riverkeeper

Earth Day is about more than changing light bulbs and following outdoor water restrictions. Those are things we should all be doing every day. Earth Day is a reminder that on April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans mobilized for the protection of our planet. This outpouring of widespread support resulted in the bi-partisan creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. In years to come, we would regulate hazardous waste, demand toxic cleanups, and removed lead from gasoline. The Earth Day movement involved Democrats and Republicans, rich and poor, urbanites and farmers. It was no longer socially acceptable to litter, waste, or remain apathetic to your environmental footprint.

Unfortunately, we are experiencing a different political climate today. Clean air and water was once an issue that brought Americans together against polluting industries and gas-guzzling automobiles. Now, the environment is under assault by politicians who characterize protections as “job killers,” ignore prevailing science, eliminate environmental programs, and underfund agencies into obsolescence.

This Earth Day, here are some ways to fight for the earth and truly honor the intent and commitment that Earth Day evoked 36 years ago.

10000Trees_ConfedPark_CMKY

Plant a Tree

Planting a tree sounds as simple as changing out a light bulb, but will you do it? Let’s just say that you did, and so did everyone else in the City of Jacksonville. Nearly 850,000, almost 1 million trees, would be added to our city, providing oxygen, shade, habitat, removing pollutants from the air we breathe and working to filter and absorb water from heavy rains. One million new native trees would be a complete game changer for our city. New York just did it, and so can we!

 

10000Trees_Plant a TreeSeed Bombs

Guerilla gardening is for everyone, and for Earth Day, consider the seed bomb. Seed bombs are collections of seeds rolled together with a clay and compost mixture. The bomb can be dried out and easily thrown into vacant lots, road sides, or any area with a lack of plants and flowers. Other counties in Florida and many states across the U.S. have thriving wildflower medians on highways, vegetated buffers around retention ponds for wildlife, and native plants along city right-of ways. Unfortunately, the status quo is mowed grass, which lacks in biodiversity and health benefits, provides no benefit to pollinators, fails to adequately absorb rainwater resulting in the need for drainage structures, and requires fertilizers and regular maintenance. Seed bombs may be a temporary solution, but if you don’t have a yard to plant a tree, try to start a wildflower garden nearby. If someone mows it all down, start it again.

EarthDay_landingSpeak out at a Rally

Our politicians aren’t talking about Earth Day, because we aren’t yelling about it loud enough. Before giving up on the entire system, start writing letters, making phone calls, and speaking out about the issues that matter to you. Americans may not have the unified voice that we once did for conservation and a healthy planet for our children, but we are still voters and polls follow the issues we are most concerned about.

This Earth Day, take matters into your own hands by doing what you, and everyone, has the power to do right now, today.

About Shannon Blankinship

Shannon Blankinship is the Outreach Director for St. Johns Riverkeeper and contributes regularly via the “On The River” column building awareness for the many issues that impact the St. Johns River. Shannon received her B.S. from Purdue University in Natural Resources Economics and Policy and her J.D. from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville. She is currently an elected official in Duval County serving on the Soil and Water Conservation District. She is a board member for the local nonprofit The Girls Gone Green and regularly contributes articles affecting animals and health. She is a Springfield resident and works to promote all things great in the urban core neighborhoods.