Fifty years after it participated in the first Earth Day, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is launching a yearlong initiative to show how everyday choices can affect the health of the environment.
Starting this month, Philadelphia area residents—and everybody, really—will be encouraged to join Academy scientists, staff, the institution as a whole, and its partners in a series of meaningful actions, critical conversations and practical information aimed at benefitting the environment and all who live in it.
“We know that small actions spark big changes. Think of the birth of the environmental movement in 1970, all the way to Greta Thunberg’s student movement to fight climate change,” said Academy President and CEO Scott Cooper. “We know that science matters, and we’re stepping up our efforts to forge partnerships and to connect communities to everyday issues that matter for a healthy and sustainable planet.”
2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, in which the Academy participated as a leading voice in the region. Today the nation’s oldest natural history museum launched a yearlong Small Actions Spark Big Changes initiative that focuses on engaging people in a different environmental theme each month. Practical information, helpful resources and participation opportunities related to the theme will be posted on the Academy Blog and distributed on social media and to email subscribers.
The staff of the Academy will participate in its own demonstration of support for each monthly theme, and new partnerships with public participation will involve Philadelphia businesses, city officials, non-profits and community leaders as the year progresses. For museum visitors, an Instagrammable selfie spot will be set up starting January for guests to share their tips related to each theme. Their posts will appear on the spot on a monitor so all museum visitors can benefit.
For example, recycling is the theme for January. Starting Jan. 7, the Academy Blog will feature a comprehensive guide to recycling in Philadelphia and a list of key resources for additional exploration. Museum visitors can record their answers to “What small actions have you taken to recycle?” and their Instagram selfie will be shared on Twitter and Instagram.
The Academy staff will benefit from city and non-profit speakers and will participate in opportunities to recycle products beyond the regular paper, plastic and glass. A post-holiday Academy Swap will be held so employees can exchange unwanted holiday gifts and used clothing and household goods; leftovers will be donated to charity.
The theme for February is: Tell someone you love about climate change.
March is: Reduce water usage.
April is: Planting for the Environment.
In the spring, through a partnership with Philadelphia sustainable clothier United By Blue, the Academy is encouraging everyone to participate in removing 25,000 pounds of trash from the Delaware River. The cleanups will take place in the Philadelphia area in March, April and May; dates and locations to be determined.
Other themes as the year progresses address native species, plastics and the importance of voting in the fall general election. For more information and to follow along each month, visit ansp.org.
By Carolyn Belardo