Jared Reedy, Aim Hometown Innovations Contributor
Earth Day was first held on April 22, 1970. According to EARTHDAY.ORG (the world’s largest nonprofit environmental organization, formerly known as Earth Day Network), “Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urban dwellers and farmers, business and labor leaders.”
As a result of the efforts by Senator Gaylord Nelson and activists John McConnell and Denis Hayes, 20 million American mobilized and protested polluting factories, toxic dumps, and the loss of wilderness/wildlife on the first Earth Day. Today, with over one billion people across the globe participating in events and celebrations, Earth Day is the largest secular observance in the world.
Elkhart’s annual Arbor Day event has morphed into an Earth Day celebration over the last few years. The Elkhart Enivironmental Center’s Earth Day event is a free event sponsored by community organizations. Activities include a free tree giveaway, a seeds and starters exchange, and interactive booths sponsored by the Elkhart Public Library, Elkhart Soil & Water Conservation District, Elkhart Parks Department, Elkhart Stormwater Management, and Wellspring Solar. Additionally, this year there will be a solar panel and windmill ribbon-cutting ceremony. In the Midwest, a single wind turbine produces about 2.5 megawatts of energy, which can power about 2,500 homes.
Elkhart is not alone in its environmental efforts. Last year, Bloomington received a gold designation from SolSmart, an organization dedicated to helping local governments advance the growth of clean, affordable solar energy in their jurisdictions. The city achieved the title through several environmental efforts. The achievement of SolSmart Gold designation was a goal in Bloomington’s 2018 Sustainability Action Plan. Examples of other efforts include the Bloomington Green Home Improvement program, for which the city partnered with financial institutions to offer solar loans and rebates. Furthermore, Bloomington’s Climate Action Plan passed in April 2021 is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Goshen is another Hoosier city notable for its environmental efforts. In 2018, the city won the Aim Green Project of the Year Award and earned SolSmart Gold certification. In 2019, 92 solar projects were completed in Goshen. That year, the city outranked Phoenix, Sacramento, Denver, and Salt Lake City with its production of 116 watts of solar power per capita. This was achieved partly thanks to a “group-buy” program, making installations more affordable.
Throughout Indiana, governmental efforts on behalf of the environment have made our state cleaner and healthier for generations to come.