Prove your humanity

This April marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, where millions around the world commemorate the budding environmental movement that pushed back against air and water pollution, leading to the environmental laws and regulations that we benefit from today. Typically, that means rallies, festivals and protests in public spaces and parks. That’s not happening this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it doesn’t mean that Earth Day is canceled.

LISTEN to The Allegheny Front’s Kara Holsopple talk with Jessica Cadorette

Jessica Cadorette, field director for statewide environmental groups PennFuture and Conservation Voters of PA, said their staffs put their heads together quickly to come up with a replacement for all of their postponed or canceled events.

“We wanted to find a meaningful way that people could still protect our planet, and celebrate Earth Day right from home,” she said. “In fact, we figured the distraction is probably welcome right now.”

They settled on the Act For Our Earth Challenge. When participants sign up, they’ll get an email each day in the month of April with a small action they can take.

Cadorette said the actions fall into five “buckets”:

  • Advocacy: Sign petitions or write letters to elected officials about environmental issues. 
  • Education: Learn more about the history of the environmental movement, and where our rights and protections originated.
  • Lifestyle: Take individual action like switching your electricity provider to one that uses a clean energy source.
  • Movement building: Work with others to hold elected officials accountable, or share the challenge actions with others and encourage them to participate.
  • Voting: Register to vote, and apply for a mail-in ballot. (Pennsylvania’s primary election was moved to June 2.)

Cadorette said participants don’t have to do every challenge to feel like they are making a difference. “I think that as long as we each do what we can, when we can, we will win,” she said.

There were 470 people signed up by the beginning of the month, from older Pennsylvanians who might need some help navigating online activism, to students who are used to connecting virtually. Participants can post their observations, questions and actions on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram using #ActForOurEarthPA. 

Cadorette said that they’ll measure the success of the campaign through metrics like the number of petitions signed or volume of social media posts. However, the real success, she said, will be harder to quantify.

“Hopefully a successful Earth Day challenge would lead to hundreds more people across the state of Pennsylvania, thousands perhaps, engaging and taking actions to advocate for our planet.”

Other virtual Earth Day events: