Archive for May, 2013

World Environment Day

When is World Environment Day?

World Environment Day is celebrated every year on June 5th. It was started by the United Nations during the green movement of the early 1970s, and has since been the world’s leading environmental holiday. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness about pertinent issues concerning the environment and the way human activities impact it. Also, World Environment Day acts as a positive reminder that we can all make a difference, no matter how small the contribution or change.

History

This holiday was started in the middle of one of the first green movements in modern history. In 1972, the United Nations founded World Environment Day. At the same time, the General Assembly also founded the Environment Program, also known as UNEP.

Since the founding of World Environment Day, the holiday has been celebrated in various countries. However, the United Nations also picks a city as its headquarters for the celebrations every year. Many environmental leaders stay in this city during the week of June 5th for all the celebrations.

Celebrations

World Environment Day is celebrated primarily through education, demonstration and action. All of these activities take place during the week of June 5th, with the biggest events being held on the actual holiday. Education is an important aspect of World Environment Day—without understanding the importance of human activity on the environment, people are unlikely to change their lifestyles.

Many groups also decide to prepare demonstrations on the holiday. These demonstrations are peaceful in nature, and are designed as positive reinforcement of proposed environmental changes. Such activities are particularly noticeable in areas of the world in which demonstrations of all sorts are prohibited in certain governments. Some people undoubtedly risk their lives every World Environment Day in order to take a stand.

Finally, action is another large aspect of this holiday. Whether individually or as a group, many people decide to do something good for the environment every June 5th. Activities might include planting a tree, picking up garbage, reusing old containers and purchasing clean energy resources.

Observance

While World Environment Day is celebrated in numerous nations, it is not considered a national holiday in most countries. The United States, for example, observes the holiday every year, but does not consider it a government holiday. This means that government offices remain open and most people still have to go to work (and school, when applicable). However, many workplaces do offer celebrations in honor of World Environment Day. For instance, some companies make group contributions by the way of picking up trash or starting a community garden.

Observing the holiday can also be done at home. You might decide to make over your own impacts on the environment on this day by recycling more or buying local foods. You may even take your efforts a step further by starting an annual clean-up day in a community park or beach.

The United Nations Environmental Program also enacts a different theme for every World Environment Day. In 2013, the theme is “Think, Eat, Save.” This theme is aimed at reducing food waste. While many western nations are accustomed to simply throwing old food away, other people in the world are starving. At the same time, all the environmental impacts that helped contribute to the food are wasted when food is thrown away. Thinking about themes such as these on World Environment Day can help make lasting impacts.

By: Kristeen Cherney

World Blood Donor Day

 When is World Blood Donor Day?

World Blood Donor Day is a holiday intended to raise awareness about donating blood, as well as thanking current and past donors. Held every year on June 14th, the holiday is observed in multiple countries. It was founded by the World Health Organization (WHO) in hopes of a bigger goal: to rely on 100-percent unpaid blood donations by 2020. While increased awareness has certainly raised the number of blood donations globally, there is still much work to be done to achieve the goal set by WHO.

History

The first World Blood Donor Day was established in 2004. June 14th was chosen because it was Karl Landsteiner’s birthday. Landsteiner created the ABO grouping system. Not only is the holiday sponsored by WHO, but it is also reliant on promotion from other world agencies, including the: International Society of Blood Transfusion, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations. Together, the four agencies have worked diligently to increase blood donation awareness globally.

This holiday is not meant to replace other blood donation events. Instead, World Blood Donor Day is designed to give the issue recognition at the same time every year as a way for people around the world to catch on and celebrate accordingly. The problem with holding celebrations various times of the year is that many populations are missed, or they forget about the events altogether.

Celebrations

World Blood Donor Day is primarily a holiday of observance. The first issue at stake is the need for blood donations worldwide. Blood shortages are problematic in virtually all nations, but especially in developing countries where clean equipment and sterile practices may be scarce. According to WHO, over 90 million people donate blood every year, but there is still a global shortage. Blood donations are imperative to lifesaving procedures, as well as to help people with certain chronic illnesses live longer. If everyone who is able voluntarily donated blood, there might not be such a shortage.

While World Blood Donor Day provides an opportunity to call to action, blood donors are also celebrated every June 14th. Some cities host events where patients have the opportunity to publicly thank donors for saving their lives. During these events, people may also be able to donate blood through mobile centers.

Looking Ahead

WHO has set forth a goal for every country that each nation’s blood donors will all accomplish donations voluntarily. While many people already give blood on a voluntary, many countries are forced to pay citizens as an incentive. As of 2013, WHO estimates that only 62 out of over 190 countries collect all blood donations on a voluntary, unpaid basis. The organization hopes that the remaining 130+ countries will all have voluntary blood donations set in place by 2020.

With each World Blood Donor Day held every year, more and more people across the globe are gaining education on the importance of donating blood. Not only is this important in achieving the goal set by WHO, but it is good for the benefit of humanity. Given the scarcity of good blood resources, it is more important than ever that you donate if you are able to do so. The process can help save lives and better the lifestyles of millions globally.

 By: Kristeen Cherney