Did you know that the first Earth Day was in the U.S. on April 22, 1970, a day people now honor everywhere in the world – 141 countries at last count! Try to imagine your life without clean air, clean water, and so much more. In 1970, Americans were still using leaded gas to drive massive cars. Industry expelled smoke and sludge with little consequence or recycling. Air pollution and dirty rivers were commonly accepted as the price we paid in America for prosperity.

Since then, countless laws have been passed, and customs changed, to profoundly alter that reality. But there’s still a long way to go. And so much of what still remains to be done is up to our everyday decisions as consumers. Reading this blog, and considering a lab-grown diamond, means you’ve probably thought about the toll that diamond mining takes on the environment. You’re choosing a way to enjoy diamonds that treads more lightly on the earth. Here at AIDIA, we’re delighted about that.

So what else can you do? The Earth Day Network, which each year recruits new people to the movement, reminds us of some key steps we can all personally take. The group estimates that there have been over two billion “Acts of Green” since the movement started, and the world is well on its way towards three billion. Here’s some actions you can consider:

* PLANT A TREE. This is one of the easiest ways that you can fight climate change. “Deforestation contributes to species extinction, poverty, and is responsible for up to 15% of the global greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change,” says the Earth Day Network. If planting a tree for yourself or someone else isn’t possible, you can donate to The Canopy Project, where every dollar buys a tree. The project works on the ground with organizations worldwide that strengthen communities through tree planting. It has empowered rural and urban people alike to conserve, repair, and restore tree cover to their lands. Learn more here: https://donate.earthday.org/events/trees-for-earth/e76443

* REDUCE YOUR DISPOSABLE PLASTIC USE. Currently about 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year to make bags, bottles, packages, and other commodities for people all over the world, says the Earth Day Network. But only about 10 percent of this plastic is properly recycled and reused. The rest ends up as waste in landfills or as litter in our natural environment, where it leaches dangerous chemicals into the nearby soil and water, endangering humans and wildlife alike. Along with recycling the plastic you do use, are there ways that you could switch to more re-usable containers, and avoid buying products in plastic containers?

* EAT LESS MEAT. The meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. Who knew? That’s because, as the world has grown more prosperous, people eat a lot more meat, causing consumption to triple over the last four decades. But we can all help by making just a small reduction in how much meat we consume. Many people have taken a pledge to not eat meat one day a week, and observe #MeatlessMonday – there’s a website here that will give you encouragement and a community to follow: http://www.meatlessmonday.com/. Already avoiding meat a few days a week? Try one day more. Every little bit helps – the Earth Day Network says if you ate one less burger a week, for example, it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for 320 miles.

We’re all in this together, and I hope you’ll join us here at AIDIA in playing a role. To learn more, go to: http://www.earthday.org/.