One annual celebration you might be forgiven for not participating in (or even knowing about) is World Soil Day. Yes, soil—as in that sticky brown stuff that gets walked all over your prized cream carpets. Sadly, it is our ignorance about the importance of soil and the degree to which we take advantage of all that it offers that have led to a drastic reduction in its quality the world over. These are precisely the problems World Soil Day aims to battle, as few things could be more important to us, the inhabitants of Planet Earth, who could never hope to survive without the land. Soil is one without a doubt of the most significant parts of the ecosystem, contributing to our food, water and energy and playing an important part in reducing the impact of climate change. For all of these reasons, it’s high time World Soil Day became known to more people than just scientists concerned about the welfare of our planet.
The History of World Soil Day
In 2002, the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) made a resolution proposing the 5th of December be World Soil Day in order to celebrate the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to human well-being. 2015 was also declared to be the Internationals Year of Soils in hopes of raising as much awareness as possible about the enormous role soil plays in food security. Unsurprisingly, so far it’s mostly been the global community of 60,000 or so soil scientists who have been the ones celebrating the day the most. The chances of us ordinary folk exchanging ‘Happy Soil Day’ cards in the near future remain minimal, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn to appreciate the important roles that soil plays in our lives (even if it is darn hard to scrub off the carpet when your nearest and dearest feline friends leave muddy footprints on their way to the kitchen).
How to Celebrate World Soil Day
The best way to celebrate this day is to do exactly what scientists the world over so badly needs to: educate ourselves. An enormous amount of damage is done to the planet every year due not to ill will, but to ignorance—many of us simply do not know enough about the earth to know when we are damaging it, sometimes irreparably. As it turns out, there are a number of things we regular people can do that can greatly help the soil we live off of remain in good condition. For example, we can plant a rain garden. For those of you who may not know what a rain garden is, it’s a shallow depression in the yard or garden rainwater can easily flow into, which helps reduce soil erosion.
It is also a good idea to reduce the amount of surfaces such as driveways and patios to a minimum, as water flowing over them gains momentum and causes more erosion than it normally would once it reaches the soil. If you absolutely must have that patio, you could consider having it built with paving stones so rainwater can flow directly downward into the soil instead. Another simple way you could go about conserving soil (and in this case, water as well) is to have a rain barrel placed somewhere where it can collect rainwater flowing off your roof, which you can then use to water your lawn. Whatever you decide to do, remember that even the smallest gestures can make a big difference to Mother Nature!