Earth Day 2024: The Importance of Community-Driven Change

ACES Staff

April 22, 2024

Earth Day 2024: The Importance of Community-Driven Change

On April 22, we’ll celebrate Earth Day here at ACES. But what does it mean to participate in this day, which started in 1970 and has grown from a grassroots progressive celebration into a global movement? We’re going to tackle some Earth Day Myths and Facts– breaking down the simple actions you can take right now to contribute to the health of our planet today and for years to come.

First and foremost, stop beating yourself up, Earthling: it’s important to know you *may not* be the problem. 

There is a lot of dialogue around individual action which may have led to you panicking every time you’re faced with a complicated recycle and compost bin situation at your local quick serve restaurant. Did you know the recycling symbol was born out of a design conference right here in Aspen, CO? Did you also know it was never trademarked? That means modified versions of it (which look nearly identical to the original) can be placed on all plastics, including those that aren’t recyclable. Corporations may use this to their advantage, shifting the weight of environmental responsibility on to the consumer, rather than as a large-scale internal problem that needs to be solved collectively by both individuals and businesses. This year’s theme for Earth Day 2024 is Planet vs. Plastics. The theme aims to raise awareness of plastic pollution, reduce single-use plastic consumption, demand an end to fast-fashion, invest in technologies that can reduce plastic use, and demand a 60% reduction in the production of plastics by the end of this year. Things you can start practicing: Read labels before you buy (then maybe consider not buying anything). They don’t call it “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” (in that order!) for nothing! You can also attend our event, at Hallam Lake, about our planet’s plastic pollution to learn more!

Here’s another proverbial light bulb moment: flipping the switch when you leave the room isn’t going to make or break the electricity problem. LED lighting products produce light up to 90% more efficiently than incandescent light bulbs, and are almost exclusively in use these days. So while our moms were adamant about turning off the lights (and we’re still in the habit of doing so), the myth that it will save the planet is just that. 

Now that we’ve dispelled some Earth Day Myths, we turn our attention to the Facts. You can lead by example. Climate is a collective action problem, meaning there’s strength in numbers. While your small lifestyle adjustments add up, nothing’s more powerful than gathering a group to lobby legislators and communicate on issues you’re passionate about, like saving the planet. Write letters, phone bank and get out the vote. Did you know you could even be on the Board of our local, cooperative electric company? Promote issues such as building requirements (like installing heat pumps, building IQ, and natural gas bans), renewable energy initiatives, and the protection of intact ecosystems, where significant carbon is stored.

Not a policy wonk? Focus on food! Consider going meatless one night a week, grocery shop only for what you need, when you need it, become a leftover-morphing whiz (we like pesto ourselves), and, when all else fails, be sure to compost your food scraps– there are several programs in the Roaring Fork Valley. Consider walking it off, biking, taking the bus or taking advantage of a few free local rideshare programs (the Downtowner in Aspen or Basalt Connect mid-Valley).

Chris Cohen Photography.


On Earth Day itself, Roaring Fork Valley locals have a few options to actively participate. Join our FREE Compost Pickup at Hallam Lake and Rock Bottom Ranch from 9am–5pm, get FREE seed packets from Aspen Distillers from 9am-5pm, or wait ‘til the weekend and participate in the Exchange and Swap at the Aspen Fire Station on Saturday, April 27 from 11am-2pm.

Over the decades, the environmental movement of the 1970s transitioned from being a broad, inclusive initiative to a more localized movement, focusing on affluent communities. So our final thoughts this Earth Day focus not only what myths can be dispelled, and what actions we can take but how we can all strive to ensure that a liveable planet is a priority that all communities understand, embrace, and strive toward, both Valley-wide and globally. If we do not understand the implications of our consumption habits and how they affect the wellbeing of the earth, we will not have the tools necessary to take steps toward a stable climate and healthy planet.

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