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The Message Of Earth Day 2015 Is Simple: It's Our Turn To Lead

No one else is going to save the planet for us.

This year’s Earth Day message is clear: It’s our turn to lead. It’s an overwhelming challenge, saving the planet, but it’s one we’re more than capable of rising to, at least according to Earth Day Network’s President Kathleen Rogers.

When MTV News asked Rogers why “It’s our turn to lead” became the resounding message behind this year’s 45th anniversary celebration, she said it’s because we need to realize that “without the clamor of people and without it registering at the voting box, we’re not going to move the needle.” In short, she said, we need to step up and lead because “no one else is going to do it.”

And that’s the whole point: Organizations like Earth Day Network are hoping ordinary citizens step up and force world leaders to follow our example this year.

If you’re looking for some inspiration on how to take action this Earth Day, check out what these individuals and organizations are doing to make a difference.

The Honest Company

If all you know about The Honest Company is that Jessica Alba is one of the founders, then you should take a look at the organization’s impressive array of products – and its even more impressive health and sustainability goals.

When MTV News spoke with Christopher Gavigan, The Honest Company’s Founder and Chief Product Officer, he said, “Be aware of a hugely important issue in the U.S. legislation: how chemicals are approved, tested, and regulated in consumer products (TSCA reform).”

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According to Gavigan, our country’s weak TSCA laws around human health “don't necessarily prevent risky products and harsh, untested chemicals from entering the marketplace.” And that’s exactly what The Honest Company is deadset against. In fact, the company’s mission is to “set new business and product standards that reduce the ubiquitous presence of toxic, carcinogenic and harsh chemicals ‘in, on, and around’ people.”

But that’s not all: This year The Honest Company will be honored with the Pioneer in Sustainability Award by the Los Angeles Sustainability Business Council at their annual industry achievement award ceremony.

Warriors of the Wild

Warriors of the Wild might operate in Texas, but the organization recently received national attention. Glamour recognized cofounder Vanessa Alejandro as one of its Top 10 College Women, and she used her spotlight to talk about the exciting work Warriors of the Wild is doing to teach inner-city kids about science and the environment. The organization, which uses skits and costumes to get the students excited about the information, has already presented to more than 4,500 students.

“Things like recycling, decreasing demand on paper, meat, and other products with unnecessary waste, may seem irrelevant and ineffective in the arena of global change, but that is not the case,” Alejandro said.

Warriors Of The Wild

When MTV News asked for some of her activist role models, Alejandro pointed to Annie Leonard, Bruce Babbitt, and Stewart Udall. She also recommended picking up Leonard’s “Story of Stuff” to learn more about how small actions can add up to a big change.

SunShot Initiative

When President Obama announced an expansion of the Solar Ready Vets program, we knew we had to learn more. What we found out is that Solar Ready Vets is just one program under the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, a “national collaborative effort to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade.”

When MTV News reached out to Minh Le, Director of the Solar Energy Technologies Office, to learn more about the initiative, he said that the ambitious 10-year plan was partly inspired by President Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the moon in the 1960s. He also said that the SunShot Initiative has been a major success so far, and that he’s “happy to report that we’re about 70 percent of the way toward our 2020 goal.”

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That success also translates to a staggering number of jobs being created in the solar energy sector. According to Le, there were “roughly 174,000 jobs across America in the solar sector” last year. In fact, Le told MTV News one out of 78 new jobs was actually a solar job.

With the solar industry growing “roughly ten times faster than any other industry in the economy,” employers felt the pressure to find capable employees. As a result, the DOE launched the Solar Ready Vets program under the SunShot Initiative. Launched in September 2014, the program “recognizes the skills and the leadership and the talent of our former armed service members” and connects them to jobs in the solar energy industry.

Sophia Bush and Leonardo DiCaprio

If you’re looking for some celebrity role models this Earth Day, look no further than Sophia Bush and Leonardo DiCaprio. This month, Bush partnered with EcoTools to help makeup lovers “green” their beauty routine. The “Chicago P.D.” actress has also taken to using her social media platforms to encourage her followers to understand that #ConsciousnessIsChic. Not only did she share some #EcoInspire tips, but she also urged her followers to take steps to decrease their carbon footprints.

As for DiCaprio, he warmed our eco-loving hearts last year when he spoke at the U.N.’s Climate Summit. And now news outlets have reported that the actor was planning to build an eco-friendly resort on a private island.

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It’s admirable to see the steps these individuals and organizations are taking, but what happens when Earth Day is over? When MTV News asked Rogers how to stay involved, she said that it’s useful to “adopt the mindset that every day is Earth Day.”

Worried about being alone in your commitment to protect the planet? Don’t be! People all over the world have signed up to committing acts of green on Earth Day Network’s website, and they’ve already completed 1.1 billion acts! If you’re ready to take the lead this Earth Day, find an event near you or sign Earth Day Network’s climate petition.