By Chris Webber, Engineer at Pare Corporation and a member of Pare’s Sustainability Committee
The 47th annual Earth Day celebration, which has grown from a United States tradition to one shared by countries around the world, was held on April 22.
The idea for Earth Day was born out of the counterculture environment of the 1970’s, a time of protest and opposition to many established norms in the United States. Growing environmental unease backed by literature like the 1962 book Silent Spring and the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara served as the catalyst for the first Earth Day. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson spearheaded a bipartisan effort to create events raising awareness across the country. Over 20 million Americans turned out that day, which began a significant shift in environmental policy. The Environmental Protection Agency was formed before the end of the year and the passage of several major laws–including the Clean Air, Safe Drinking Water, Environmental Quality Improvement, and Endangered Species Acts–soon followed.
Earth Day expanded as a day of global awareness in 1990, with over 200 million people from 141 countries participating in events around the world. The event was followed by the United Nations Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992, which sought to address global environmental issues like increasing water use and climate change. More recently, Earth Day 2016 marked the signing of the Paris Agreement as a worldwide effort to combat climate change.
Even as Earth Day seeks to promote global awareness through monumental events, the initial 1970’s grass roots mission to care for the environment in one’s local community continues.
It is that spirit that inspired Pare’s Sustainability Committee to hold its 6th Annual Earth Day Photo Contest with a theme of “Be Green Outside!” The photos can be viewed at http://blog.parecorp.com/2017/04/25/celebrate-earth-day-with-pare-by-voting-in-the-6th-annual-earth-day-photo-contest/. Congratulations to Erika Klinkhammer, an Environmental Scientist in the Civil Division of Pare, for winning the contest with her photo of the Latimer Reef Lighthouse on Fisher Island in Long Island Sound.
In addition to the contest, several Pare employees participated in a local cleanup organized by the Rhode Island chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers Young Members Group (RI ASCE YM). They participated in the 5th Annual Providence Earth Day Spring Cleaning event sponsored by the City of Providence, Providence Parks Department, and the Partnership for Providence Parks. For the cleanup they were partnered with the West Broadway Neighborhood Association to help with the 33rd Annual Neighborhood Spring Cleanup. More than 100 people came out to clean and improve this metropolitan neighborhood resulting in the pickup of 400 bags of trash, 300 bags of yard waste to be composted, more than a dozen mattresses, and several large items such as televisions and tires. Despite the cold and rainy weather, Pare engineers Bobby Sykes, Jessica Damicis, and Marc Weller were cheerfully picking up trash, spreading new mulch in the play area, and helping to construct a brand new bocce court at the Dexter Training Ground Park.
Bobby Sykes who coordinated Pare’s involvement in the day stated, “I’m grateful to have participated in the earth day cleanup and to have had the opportunity to work with friends from engineering firms throughout Rhode Island. Pare has always had tremendous participation at our ASCE events, and I’m thankful I work for a company with so many like-minded individuals willing to donate a Saturday to give back to a local community.”
As April 22, 2018 approaches, there are many ways to participate in Earth Day activities; learn more at http://www.earthday.org/take-action/. While the day is a fantastic way to stay environmentally conscious, simple efforts like recycling and composting at home and other small activities are great ways to reduce our environmental footprint throughout the year. Every day is an opportunity to be a better steward of Planet Earth. Thanks to all who participated in this year’s Earth Day events; we’ll look forward to seeing you again next year!