Even as COVID-19 remains on the forefront of how we live our lives in the short term, we must continue to move forward on important issues that will impact us long after this public health crisis ends. To that end, I recently issued a proclamation acknowledging the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, the importance of which I would like to share with you.

According to the NJ DEP, public interest about air and water pollution, human population, development and conservation was raised by scientists and conservationists after the Great Depression and World War II. This environmental activism grew stronger and louder during the decade of the 1960s, until Earth Day Network founder Denis Hayes was enlisted to organize the nationwide efforts for the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 — when 20 million Americans mobilized to call for greater protections for our planet.

That first Earth Day launched a wave of action, including the passage of landmark environmental laws in the United States — such as the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts, as well as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Earth Day Network (earthday.org) now works with more than 75,000 partners in over 190 countries and has set Climate Action as the theme for Earth Day 2020. This theme calls to the forefront that climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.

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The Town of Westfield is committed to developing and implementing sustainability strategies that will reduce our impact on the environment, both collectively and individually, as we fight global warming and preserve our environment for the citizens we serve now, and for generations to come. We continue to support the proactive efforts of the Green Team, whose mission is to help the town government, residents and businesses to fight climate change and be more sustainable in our everyday lives.

On behalf of the community, I want to extend my deep thanks to the Westfield Green Team for its energy, enthusiasm and action it brings to this mission. And despite not being to hold its originally planned Earth Day Month culminating in the EV Car Show, FREE Market, and Earth Day Fair in late April, we appreciate the team’s flexibility in shifting to a Virtual Earth Month celebration — including the launch of a video series and the do-it-at-home Climate Ribbon project.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and to signify the importance of fighting Climate Change, I have joined Climate Mayors, comprised of 19 other NJ municipalities in this bipartisan, peer-to-peer network of US mayors working together to demonstrate leadership on climate change through meaningful actions and to express and build political will for effective policy action. I have also officially designated April 22, 2020 as Earth Day in the Town of Westfield.

I encourage all citizens to think globally, act locally, and participate in programs and activities that will protect our environment and contribute to a healthy, sustainable future. For more information on what you can do, visit the Green Team section of our website at westfieldnj.gov/green.

One of the silver linings of this pandemic has been a healthier planet as documented through better air quality, cleaner oceans, and smaller carbon footprints brought on by our behavior changes. On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, now that we have seen what’s possible, let’s renew our commitment to protecting our environment and creating a greener and healthier community. Stay well everyone!

Mayor Shelley Brindle