In the 1960s, Americans were becoming more aware of the effects of pollution on our environment. To fight back against this Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson began Earth Day as a “national teach-in on the environment” with hundreds of events with millions of participants occurring on April 22, 1970. By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of other first-of-their-kind environmental laws, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. These laws have protected millions of people from disease and death and have protected hundreds of species from extinction.
The theme for Earth Day 2021 is “Restore Our Earth,” which focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems and fight climate change. We all need a healthy Earth to support our livelihoods, health, and happiness. Working to improve the environment locally in our community is important. It is why I have passed legislation expanding sewers, removed invasive species from Canaan Lake, and increased the amount of charging stations for electric vehicles in Suffolk County. I have also been a strong supporter of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. They offer programs, resources, and advice and do research on a variety of different agricultural and aquatic issues. If you are thinking of starting a sustainable garden that is both good for you and the environment, then Cornell can help. Here are some tips from Cornell Cooperative Extension on how to sustainably plant:
• Healthy plants and lawns thrive on fewer, longer soakings for root development. Drip or soaker hoses are ideal for new flower borders, landscape plants, container and vegetable gardens. Although automatic sprinklers make lawn irrigation effortless, these can waste water if not properly monitored. Lawns need only about an inch of water weekly.
• Composting is the most practical and convenient way to handle your yard wastes. By using compost, you return organic matter to the soil in a usable form. Organic matter in the soil improves plant growth by helping to break up heavy clay soils and improving their structure, by adding water and nutrient-holding capacity to sandy soils, and by adding essential nutrients to any soil. Improving your soil is the first step toward improving the health of your plants. Healthy plants help clean our air and conserve our soil, making our communities healthier places in which to live.
Earth Day is a great time to start thinking about how you can do your part to make our community more healthy and sustainable. Cornell Cooperative Extension offers many different resources for those interested in making sure their gardens and plantings meet this goal. To learn more about Cornell’s work, visit ccesuffolk.org or call 631-727-7850. The Earth Day celebration is also a reminder of the role our government plays in making sure that we all stay safe from harmful pollution. From the creation of the EPA to the passage of Clean Air and Water Acts, government continues to do its part, and I will continue to work to make sure that Suffolk County government is keeping residents safe that our environment is here for future generations to enjoy.