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By JEI intern, Maggie McCarthy

Though the earth sustains us, its health depends upon our care and responsible use of its resources. Protecting the planet is both a religious and spiritual imperative. The Hebrew phrase l’dor v’dor captures this central command. We must pass on a thriving earth “from generation to generation”.

Earth Day provides the perfect occasion to remember our duty to the planet. In attempts to raise environmental awareness, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin proposed a day of celebration, instituting the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Now over 1 billion people in 192 countries participate, making it one of the largest civic observances in the world.

If you’d like to learn more about sustainability or simply celebrate the vibrant planet we inhabit, the St. Louis Earth Day organization offers opportunities for education and fun.

The St. Louis Earth Day Festival in Forest Park has been around for 27 years and encourages locals to “Think Global, Act STL”. Come to learn about local businesses offering sustainable services and products, connect with non-profits that embrace environmentally conscious values, participate in educational activities, enjoy diverse cuisine, and see local musicians and artists. Entry is free and all (even your pets!) are welcome. If you can’t make it to the festival but would still like to give back, visit the Recycling Extravaganza at St. Louis Community College, Forest Park Campus on April 3 from 10 AM – 2 PM. Several local businesses collecting everything from old health equipment to Mardi Gras beads will have recycling booths ready for your donations. For all of the deep dish pizza lovers, Pi Pizza will have a food truck on site from 11 AM to 1 PM. Learn more about both events at: http://www.stlouisearthday.org/

If you can’t make it to either event, there are still many ways to celebrate Earth Day on your own. Here are a few suggestions:

1)      Try carpooling, riding your bike, or taking public transportation to cut down on fuel emissions.

2)      Purchase more local, organic food.

3)      Try a new recipe at home instead of eating out.

4)      Find a place to donate unwanted items rather than throwing them out.

Many of these habits can easily be incorporated in your daily life. We can all celebrate Earth Day every day.

Gail Wechsler is the Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice at the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. She is the staff person for the Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI), a committee of the JCRC and a part of the JCRC's Bohm Social Justice Initiative.
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