One look at human civilization will tell you a river runs through it. These world-spanning, serpentine veins give us water to drink, food to eat by irrigating our fields, and electricity to power our lives. Yet rivers — a non-renewable resource people tend to take for granted — are increasingly under threat from pollution and climate change. On the fourth Sunday of September every year, countries all over the globe mark World Rivers Day. The day is intended to promote awareness and pay homage to these majestic waterways, underscoring their significance to our ecosystems, culture, and survival. Want to know more? Here’s how to celebrate World Rivers Day, which this year falls on September 24.
Why rivers are important
Acting as entire ecosystems, rivers are home to an astonishing array of biodiversity. They provide habitat, breeding grounds, and migration routes for countless species — from fish and birds to amphibians and mammals. These waterways are also essential for human survival. Just think about how many cities — Paris, London, and Cairo, to name three — are built along these waterways. Rivers don’t just sustain life on Earth, they have also woven themselves into our cultural heritage and history. They have nourished civilizations, served as trade routes, and inspired art, music, and literature across the globe. The Nile, the Ganges, and the Amazon are among the iconic rivers that have shaped the identities and stories of entire nations.
The history of World Rivers Day
The roots of World Rivers Day can be traced to the efforts of Mark Angelo, a renowned river conservationist from Canada. He proposed the day to the United Nations after the success of BC Rivers Day, which he founded alongside the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC to generate awareness about British Columbia’s waterways. First celebrated in 2005, World Rivers Day sought to do the same on a global scale. Since then, the day has garnered international prominence, uniting individuals, communities, organizations, and governments.
10 ways to get involved in World Rivers Day
The more you know about the critical role rivers play in sustaining both people and the planet, the more you’ll want to help safeguard them. So, dive into these 10 ways you can help protect the crucial waterways in your area and elsewhere.
1. Explore your local rivers
First and foremost, World Rivers Day is intended as a day of celebration. So, start by getting to know the rivers in your region. Whether you’re near a mighty river or a tranquil stream, venture out to discover their beauty and learn about their unique ecosystems. Go for a riverside walk, kayak or paddleboard, or enjoy a swim to celebrate World Rivers Day.
2. Participate in cleanup initiatives
While learning about and celebrating these waterways is important, World Rivers Days is also a call to action. Join local river cleanup events organized by environmental groups and communities. These hands-on activities help remove litter and pollution, cleaning up your community along the way.
3. Advocate for river protection
Raising awareness is crucial! Engage with local and national policymakers to advocate for stronger protections for rivers and water quality. Support legislation and initiatives aimed at safeguarding these critical ecosystems.
4. Use social media
Share your knowledge and passion for rivers with others. Use your social media presence to your advantage. Make waves by spreading the word about the importance of rivers — and how you’ll be celebrating World Rivers Day.
5. Support river conservation organizations
Contribute time or resources (or both) to organizations dedicated to preserving our rivers. Many groups work tirelessly to protect and restore rivers and their ecosystems. Here are a few organizations to consider.
6. Practice sustainable living
Small changes to your daily habits can result in a positive impact on our rivers. By adopting eco-friendly practices, you can reduce pollution and minimize the environmental consequences of your actions. Some quick ways to make a meaningful impact? Properly dispose of waste, reduce plastic usage, and be mindful of water conservation. Even how you do laundry can make a difference. Chemicals from regular detergents end up in our waterways, damaging ecosystems along the way — some are even lethal to aquatic species. Because SaltyLama’s eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets are plant-based, they contain none of these toxins. No phosphates, which can create algae blooms, or surfactants, which are toxic to animal life. And no dyes, formaldehyde, or brighteners, either. Better still, our packaging is biodegradable and compostable. See some other ways to be eco-friendly in your daily life.
7. Learn more about rivers
Dive into books, documentaries, and other resources that explore the wonders of rivers. Understanding their importance and the threats they face will deepen your connection to these vital waterways.
8. Get creative
Do you have a passion for the arts? Let it empower you to celebrate and raise awareness about our rivers on World Rivers Day. You can use art, music, writing, or photography to express your love for rivers. As a result, these reflections might just inspire others to appreciate and protect them.
9. Promote responsible recreation use
If you or people you know enjoy fishing, kayaking, or boating on rivers, encourage others to be responsible and sustainable. Respect wildlife, adhere to regulations, and avoid littering on or around the water — and anywhere else for that matter.
10. Volunteer and get involved in river restoration
Participate in, support, or even kickstart a river restoration project in your area. These initiatives aim to revitalize and rehabilitate damaged river ecosystems and can be a fun, rewarding journey — as well as an amazing way to delve into your community.
On World Rivers Day, we have the opportunity to celebrate our planet’s impressive flowing wonders and make a heartfelt commitment to their preservation. By taking action, raising awareness, and forming a deeper connection to rivers, we can ensure that these vital lifelines continue to sustain us and the ecosystems we cherish. Happy World Rivers Day!