Happy Earth Day! Forty-five years ago today the first Earth Day was held in the United States. Driven by a growing awareness of the need to protect the environment the annual celebration is now global in scale. It’s the day of the year when we all pledge to do more to protect our Earth and help raise awareness about solutions to the environmental issues we’re facing. For Environmental Defence this means letting you know about what some of our key efforts will be in the coming months and inviting you to join us in making them a success.

Clean water

The Great Lakes account for 20 per cent of the world’s surface freshwater, and we as Canadians have an important responsibility to protect our coasts and freshwater. The staff and volunteers in our Water Program are working to pass a strong Great Lakes Protection Act, to ban on fish-killing microbeads from products, and to find solutions to toxic algal blooms in our Great Lakes. Every year our Blue Flag program also certifies more clean and sustainable beaches and marinas across the country.

Strong, secure protection for farmland in the Greenbelt

Protecting the land that produces our food is critical—if the United States stopped exporting food to Canada, all of our major cities would run out of food in only three days. Did you know that half of Canada’s best farmland is in Ontario and we lose over 100,000 acres every year to development?  Farms in Ontario’s Greenbelt are off limits to this sprawl but after 10 years of success the Greenbelt and other laws that encourage denser, smarter development are under review. Environmental Defence staff are working to strengthen and grow the Greenbelt to protect this precious land from being paved over.

Protecting you from toxic chemicals

There are over 80,000 synthetic chemicals in use today, and only a tiny fraction of those have ever been tested for their impacts on human health or the environment. Just last week we celebrated an important victory, when new federal regulations were proposed to restrict some toxic chemicals that are found in Teflon cookware, furniture, and products treated with stain repellants. We’re also working hard to secure restrictions on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides in Ontario. But there’s still more to do. We believe that Canadians have the right to know what dangerous chemicals they’re being exposed to every day. Educating Canadians and effective labelling of toxic chemicals are top priorities for our Toxics Program.

A clean economy

Canada is one of the biggest producers of climate change pollution in the world, both in total and on a per-capita basis. The fastest-growing source of that pollution comes from the tar sands. We all need sources of energy in order to carry out our day-to-day activities, but we need to move to clean energy if we are to address Canada’s emissions and create a competitive economy. Our work is focused on building a transition to this cleaner energy future in which we invest in renewable energy, more efficient buildings, electric public transit, and walkable communities. Our work is paying off and last week the Ontario government announced it will place limits on carbon pollution and charge for emissions. The money raised will be invested in transitioning the economy. We are supported in this work by the new Clean Economy Alliance which includes industry, labour and civil society groups.

We have a busy year ahead until Earth Day 2016. I hope you will join us to make it a success. Learn how by signing up for our newsletter list.