COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Thursday, millions of people across the world took part in Earth Day through service projects aimed at taking care of the planet.
In South Carolina, state leaders and volunteers hosted their own events to combat some of the biggest environmental challenges facing the Palmetto State.
‘While we breathe we hope’ is our motto, and we know that our future happiness and prosperity depends on three things, and they’re all part of the same: and that’s our economy, education, and our environment,” Governor Henry McMaster said. “Today we are celebrating our environment.”
People of all ages took part in events aimed at making South Carolina a cleaner place.
“This is the environment that we live in, and we have to take of this environment because you want to live in a clean place,” Jaden Quinn, a Girl Scout participating in the Clean Up South Carolina Event at the State House, said.
The main focus during events attended by Governor McMaster and Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette was ensuring a prosperous future for South Carolina by combatting issues like flooding and litter.
Governor McMaster and SC Floodwater Commission Chairman Tom Mullikin kicked off Power Plant SC at the Governor’s Mansion, in which the goal is to plant 3 million tree seeds across the state by the end of Thursday.
It’s believed to be the largest single-day tree planting in American History.
“We have a very short time on this earth, and we’ve been given something very special: South Carolina’s environment,” Mullikin said. “I simply ask you as you go home today with seeds in your pocket, what will be our legacy? How will we leave what we were blessed with? This is not ours to keep, but ours to pass on.”
Mullikin stressed that trees are essential because they absorb on average 11,000 gallons of water annually, something that will help combat the flooding issues that South Carolina has seen in recent years.
“People come to visit our beautiful state because of our outdoors,” Mullikin said. “What you see coming together is this nexus of a strong economy and a strong ecology, and that’s a message the Governor talks about. These two things: the public narrative is that you have to pick one or the other, but you don’t have one without the other, so we have tremendous private sector support.”
State officials said that another tool to solving the flooding issues is by reducing litter.
“When you see how it (litter) impacts flooding in coastal regions in our state it really opens your eyes,” Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette said.
Lieutenant Governor Evette, Palmetto Pride, and the Girl Scouts kicked off Clean Up South Carolina at the State House, which will be days of different litter clean-up projects.
“We’ve seen more and we’ve had more constituent calls in the last 6 months than I can remember in my time in office, people reaching out and talking about so much litter on the sides of our interstates and roads,” Evette said.
Palmetto Pride has removed 71 million pounds of litter from natural areas across the state over the last two decades. Clean Up South Carolina litter projects will be going on from now until Sunday.