Sick of dusting off the tie-dye and patchouli every year to celebrate Earth Day, the planet's most generic holiday? Us, too. So we've gathered together 10 lesser-known holidays that take a much more specific look at how humans interact with the world.
According to Pew, only 52 percent of Americans think protecting the environment should be a top priority for the president and Congress in 2013, and 69 percent believe there is solid evidence of global warming. That's not enough! Help boost those numbers by adding the following celebrations to your calendar:
1. World Wetlands Day
This holiday marks the signing of the Convention on Wetlands, which was held in Ramsar, Iran in 1971, and recognizes the importance of wetlands for the greater environment. It was first celebrated in 1997, and each year, a certain groundhog steals this holiday's thunder, thanks to coinciding with Groundhog Day on February 2. But never fear: In 2008, Ohio State University introduced the world to Olentangy Olga, the muskrat. This wetland dweller became a "new symbolic mammal" but hasn't quite been elevated to Punxsutawney Phil status yet.
Parade Swag: A vial of duckweed
Celebrity Spokesperson: Bill Murray. A Groundhog Day sequel?
2. National Dark Sky Week
The darkest holiday of them all was founded in 2003, and every April the week of the new moon marks a time to shed some light on our big expanse of sky. This week aims to raise awareness about and reduce light pollution temporarily, encourage using better lighting systems that don't project into the sky, and promote the study of astronomy. In a city like New York or Chicago, it's probably impossible to see a truly dark sky, but that orangey glow is more than just unappealing, it's pollution, too.
Parade Swag: Flags made from black-out curtains
Celebrity Spokesperson: Kanye West. Turn off "all of the lights."
3. Ecological Debt Day
Perhaps the most guilt-inducing holiday, Ecological Debt Day, AKA Earth Overshoot Day, takes place on the day in which we have used up our resources for the year. Meaning, humanity has used more than the earth can regenerate for the year. It started in 1987, though humanity first went into overshoot the year before. In 1987, we acknowledged the extent of our resource gluttony on December 19. Last year, the holiday took place on August 22. The New Economics Foundation calculates the calendar day of Ecological Debt Day by using the following formula: (world biocapacity/world ecological footprint) x 365.
Parade Swag: Hermione's time turner
Celebrity Spokesperson: Al Gore
4. International Migratory Bird Day
From South America to Canada, International Migratory Bird Day brings attention to—you guessed it—bird migration. The organization that hosts the holiday, Environment For The Americas, calls it one of the most important and spectacular events in the Americas. Every second Saturday in May for North Americans and in October for those in Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. Though, EFTA stresses, every day is bird day, and thus you're welcome to celebrate all year long.
Parade Swag: A hat (watch out for falling poop!)
Celebrity Spokesperson: Alfred Hitchcock. The more birds, the better.
5. International Day For Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict
The United Nations created this November 6 holiday in 2001. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, over the last 60 years, 40 percent of all internal conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources and these conflicts are also twice as likely to relapse. The holiday links war and natural resource exploitation and peace and conservation.
Parade Swag: Peace-sign reusable water bottles
Celebrity Spokesperson: Angelina Jolie
6. Chemists Celebrate Earth Day
In 2003, the American Chemical Society joined in on April 22's festivities. Each year, ACS highlights one of four general topics and chooses a theme—this year it's "Our Earth: Handle With Care"—to focus the celebration and highlight how chemists can contribute to a greener world.
Parade Swag: Beakers dyed green
Celebrity Spokesperson: Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston
7. Sun Day
President Jimmy Carter declared May 3, 1978 as Sun Day. The holiday—which sounds a little too much like the day of the week—was modeled after Earth Day, with teach-ins and workshops, and was even organized with the help of one of the original coordinators of the first Earth Day. It has been dormant since it was held in 1978, but why not revive it?
Parade Swag: Neon Ray-Bans
Celebrity Spokesperson: Snooki
8. Fossil Fools Day
For those environmentally-minded pranksters out there, Fossil Fools Day is a strange mix of April Fools' day and Earth Day and it takes place each year on April 1. It began in 2004 in the United States and Canada to hold coordinated action against the not-so-funny use of fossil fuels to derive energy.
Parade Swag: A whoopee cushion made from recycled rubber
Celebrity Spokesperson: Ashton Kutcher
9. Junk Mail Awareness Week
Junk mail isn't just annoying. The catalogues and flyers that go straight to your recycling bin (or worse, your trash can…) do their part in destroying forests. Take a day to think about that and maybe take some action--sign up for Do Not Mail lists, or post a note on your mailbox declaring it a junk mail-free zone.
Parade Swag: Repurposed junk mail art
Celebrity Spokesperson: Charlie Sheen, pornographic junk mail purveyor
10. Global Wind Day
Every June 15, the world comes together to raise awareness about wind energy production. The public can visit wind farms, meet experts and attend events to learn more about the alternative energy source.
Parade Swag: Sparkly pinwheels
Celebrity Spokesperson: Windy City Mayor Rahm Emanuel
52% of Americans think that environmental protection be a top Priority of the Federal Government? I'd say that's about 25% too many. Environmental protection is not a Federal issue except when it comes to interstate commerce (such as limiting pollution in rivers and in air currents). These laws are for protecting the down stream/wind commercial interests. Federal Government action typically is inefficient, which definitively is in contrast to conservationism.
Also, though junk mail is annoying, it actually keeps forests around. The paper industry that supplies the stock for the junk mail demands wood pulp. That demand for wood pulp encourages land owners to maintain and even increase supply. So, instead of turning their property into a mini mall, they continue to plant trees.
As a final note of FYI, the U.S. Military is almost single handedly responsible for preserving the Red Cockaded Woodpeker and a few other species. The ranges the Service Members use provide an environment that these creatures find ideal.
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