This year marks the 21st anniversary of Earth Day Canada, although the original Earth Day was held 41 years ago in the U.S. on April 22, 1970.
You may wonder what it means, or what having a day dedicated to the environment might accomplish, wedged between International Hemophilia Day on April 17, in the middle of B.C. Arts and Culture Week and the National Organ Donor Awareness Week, and one day before World Book and Copyright Day. They have a day/week/month for everything.
The answer is quite a lot. In the U.S., Earth Day inspired the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of legislation for clean air, clean water and endangered species. The first international Earth Day in 1990 was accompanied by government commitments in Canada to adopt recycling programs, and conserve various areas.
Earth Day draws global, national and local attention to the issues of the day. It's a day for rallies, for governments to announce new initiatives, for grass roots actions like cleaning garbage out of waterways and restoring natural areas.
The theme for Earth Day 2011 is "A Billion Acts of Green," where people pledge to do one or more environmentally friendly thing on Earth Day from a long list of ideas. Ideas range from switching out light bulbs to eliminating toxic cleaners, and making your home more energy efficient.
In the next few pages you will find a compelling story about a toxic legacy most of us never think of as well as a feature about "greening" your home.
With spring upon us - despite the new snow - many are turning their minds to home renovations and now more than ever, says one of Whistler's leading green builders Bob Deeks, people are considering ways to "green" their homes.
"People need to realize that there is a broad definition of being 'green' and a lot of things that somebody might label as being 'green' will actually enhance the homeowners experience within their home," said Deeks, who is also the president of the Canadian Homebuilders Association of B.C.
More and more people are considering renovations that help cut energy bills in the long term and improve a home's air quality as well. Keeping heat in can also mean keeping dust out, says Deeks.
"Part of 'green' is energy saving and the most important element in building a home that is a low energy home is focusing on the building envelope and that would be insulation in the walls, insulation values in the windows and then how airtight is the building when it is constructed.
"We are starting to see a bit of a shift. Five years ago a lot of people would say they were interested but there were very few people who were interested in paying for it.
"But today there is a growing understanding of what 'green' means...and it means a lot more that just saving you energy. 'Green' builds you a better house."
Asked if he thought all levels of government were doing enough to encourage "green" building for everyday people, he said: "I think the government could do more with something like the homeowner renovation tax credit but I do think they are contributing to this through the LiveSmart BC and ecoENERGY Retrofit program," he said.
Earth Day's message is one we all know: each of us has to make some changes for there to be a collective effect.
To make your pledge visit www.earthday.org. Earth Day Canada's website is www.earthday.ca.