Trash Picker, @Camp_Oso has collected over 750 bottle caps from SPI.

Nuestra Tierra: Why Earth Day Matters in the RGV

Words by Abigail Vela 

“Don’t Mess With Texas!” We remember this as a slogan against littering in our home state. But as we drive past trash-littered streets, we can’t help but wonder: Does this slogan still resonate? What can we do to help our RGV community and environment?

Trash Found in Neighborhood in Palmview, Texas.

It shouldn’t be the only time we talk about environmental awareness. 

Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22nd. It is a day dedicated to spreading awareness about the environmental movement. Fifty-two years after its inception in 1970, Earth Day holds a heavy weight on its shoulders.

A Dire Need For Immediate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created in 1988 to inform policymakers worldwide about the current state of climate change. It scientifically determines the social and economic impacts climate change will have on the world. 

The latest installment of the sixth IPCC report, released this April, stresses an immediate call to action to prevent the onslaught of increasing temperatures and environmental disasters by taking rapid cuts to greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (or sooner). The IPCC Report was met with climate change protests worldwide by scientists, who risked arrest to spread the dire need for immediate change.

“We are on a fast track to climate disaster. Major cities underwater. Unprecedented heat waves. Terrifying storms. Widespread water shortages. The extinction of a million species of plants and animals. And this is not fiction or exaggeration. It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies.” -António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

Make A Difference in the RGV

It’s hard to feel hopeful about the state of the world when we are currently living through the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change: extreme weather conditions, rising sea levels, loss of biodiversity, and plastic pollution.

Washed Up Trash on South Padre Island National Seashore 
Photo Courtesy of @Camp_Oso

In a vast place like Texas, let alone the RGV, it’s easy to dismiss the trash that we drive by, including illegal dumping throughout rural areas that continue due to a lack of proper resources. So then, what can we do to make a difference in the RGV?

Illegal Dumping in Palmview, Texas 

One of the best ways to help our homeland is by engaging in more sustainable and eco-friendly practices. In fact, parents in the Latinx community have been doing it for generations, reusing the mantequilla tubs and using it para salsa o frijoles. Follow their example! Simple things you can do to make a difference today are:

-Plant a native tree.
-Try going plastic-free.
-See trash? Place it in a bin.
-Conserve water and energy. 
-Carpool, take the Valley Metro, or invest in a bike
-Recycle – You can find the nearest recycling center here.
Register to vote! Demand change from your local government.
-Opt for more sustainable products, such as those found at EarthHero.
-Get a group of community members together to clean up the beach and streets.

Shop second hand from thrift shops, such as your local Goodwill. 
Small businesses where you can shop secondhand and vintage clothing are Juntos Vintage Co-operative and Modern Day Hippie.

Earth Day is Everyday

We know for a fact that governments and corporations need to take extreme sustainability measures to cut emissions before surpassing the warming limit. It’s a now-or-never scenario. 

Perhaps it is not too late.

Instead of thinking of the future as doom and gloom, take a moment to go outside and bask in the wonders of nature. Feel the heat of the RGV, take a swim at South Padre Island, and hike at the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge. By spending time with and exploring our land, nuestro valle, we will deepen our respect, connection, and appreciation for our earth.

Earth Day is a reminder that we, as individuals and a community, can take action to create lasting and meaningful change. Do your research to learn about the local environment, volunteer, spread awareness, demand change, and make plans to clean up the beach, the streets, and the spots you love to hike around. 

Lastly, gain inspiration from other Latinx environmental activists who are helping to change our world. By taking action, big or small, we can create everlasting ripples of change that benefit future generations of humans, animals, and plants to come. 

Earth Day is not limited to one day. Earth Day is every day.

¡Entonces ponte trucha! 

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