The Importance of Earth Day to Planet Aid

Planet Aid warehouse staff in Elkridge, Maryland hard at work relocating our large yellow bins.

April 22, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which is a part of an environmental movement to drive transformative change for people and planet. This year, the celebrations and protests that were planned for outside are having to go digital due to the COVID-19 crisis. Fortunately, this Earth Day, and every day, Planet Aid continues to help the planet by diverting over millions and millions of pounds of clothing from landfills.

Planet Aid is successful in helping the environment due to every single one of our employees from our warehouse staff to our drivers. Our staff are an integral part of enacting Planet Aid's mission, which is inform, mobilize, and inspire individuals and communities to work together to bring about worldwide environmental and social progress.

Our Work Matters More Than Ever

With clothing recycling becoming a major activity in homes across the country, Planet Aid continues to receive more and more donations every year. Our drivers and warehouse workers are the backbone of our organization; donations could not be collected and sorted without them.

"Our work benefits the environment because we take clothes that would just be piling up and we take it and send it to people in need," says Edward Craig, a Planet Aid warehouse associate. Edward Craig and other warehouse associates are essential to Planet Aid because they clean, sort, and place donation items into bales that will be sent to communities in need. Used clothing is in higher demand in developing countries, such as Mozambique, than in the United States.

Warehouse Associate, Edward Craig, loading donations from truck into the Planet Aid facility in Elkridge, Maryland

Textile waste continues to be a major issue in the United States, with over 11 million tons of textiles ending up in landfills every year. Our staff helps divert items from ending up in a landfill. "Planet Aid is important and should be recognized on Earth Day because we go out there clean up clothes that would end up in a landfill," says warehouse associate Stephen Collins.

"Someone can reuse these items somewhere in the world," adds Frank Fowler, Operations Manager at Planet Aid. "So instead of them wasting away, creating greenhouse gases, someone can use them. Our landfills our overflowing, so us being on the front lines is making a difference. Every small act counts from just donating a t-shirt." Last year, Planet Aid diverted over 99 million pounds of textiles from landfills.

Frank Fowler, Operations Manager of Planet Aid's in Elkridge, Maryland location.

Earth Day and Beyond

Planet Aid's President, Fred Olsson, in front of bales of donated textiles.

With the COVID-19 pandemic receiving a majority of the media attention, Earth Day is not receiving the recognition it deserves. There are major environmental issues that need to attention from the public, especially the government. Planet Aid's president, Fred Olsson, has a message regarding the current state of the environment.

"I believe COVID-19 has disastrous effect on Global economy and social life as we are used to it, and while it is a horrible disease, which can only be controlled short-term by social distancing, using face masks and thorough hygiene, the long-term solution must be a good vaccine. This pandemic will pass and other viruses will come in its place. Humanity has the knowledge and recourses to stop this pandemic and prevent the next one from become as severe.

While all media attention is on COVID-19, we continue to deplete the planet's biosphere. Are you familiar with Earth Overshoot Day? It is an estimate of when during a year humanity has used up the Earth's ecological budget for that year. In 2018 that day was August 1, in 2019 it was July 29. The rest of the year we simply deplete the earth for its ecological resources. An example is the unsustainable deforestation, not only in the Amazonas and Borneo, but around the world. Another is the depletion of soil by industrial agriculture that leaves vast areas of land infertile due to intensive farming and chemical fertilizers.

The first-year humanity took more out from Earth's ecological system then it could renew, was 1970. At that time, we were 3 billion humans, today we are close to 8 billion, so you can see why Earth Overshoot Day moved from December 31 in 1970 to July 29 in 2019. This resource depletion will be a big problem for our children and their children.

As we celebrate Earth Day 2020, I think this issue is important to study, understand and act to correct.

I also encourage you to learn about the Nine Planetary Boundaries that effect all life on Earth. Climate Change is one of them and the one most discussed and talked about, albeit obviously not enough. The other important boundaries are: Biodiversity loss, Ocean acidification, Land use, Ozone depletion, Atmospheric aerosols, Chemical pollution, Freshwater Consumption, and the Nitrogen and Phosphorus Cycles, which are even less on the media's radar.

Learn, speak out and act."