We’re taking a minute today to reflect back on how there came to be a day that celebrated the Earth and it’s awesomeness. Who started it? Why did it begin? What changes have been made to the Earth because of this day? These questions plus more will be answered below!
Where It All Began
The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970. The day was set in order to spotlight the need for environmental regulation and put concerns about the planet on everyone’s radar. People celebrated Earth Day in 1970 by demonstrating in the streets and parks of their cities to show their support for cultivating a sustainable environment.
The man with this Earth Day plan was Gaylord Nelson, a Senator from Wisconsin at the time. He wanted to incorporate the energy of student anti-war movements into public awareness about the pollution of our planet so important environmental issues would catch the attention of the national political agenda. Senator Nelson built a team comprised of congressman Pete McCloskey and national coordinator Denis Hayes. Hayes created a national staff to help promote the event across the country and Nelson went to the media with the idea of a “national teach-in on the environment” to get press around the purpose of Earth Day.
The date of April 22 was selected as the first Earth Day for a very simple reason: it fell between spring break and final exams for students. This was the age group at the time that fought against things like oil spills, polluting factories, toxic dumps, pesticides, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife, so mobilizing this fleet of environmental advocates was a top priority for Nelson and his team. Their choosing of the date proved to be wise, because over 20 million people participated in Earth Day 1970.
The Impacts of Earth Day
8 months after the nation’s first Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency was born. The EPA is responsible for protecting human health and the environment. Earth Day 1970 also helped in the creation of a slew of environmentally-conscious acts, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Endangered Species Act, the banning of poisonous pesticide DDT, and the phasing out of CFC’s.
Earth Day took a giant step towards gaining recognition in 1990. Nelson was approached by a group of environmental leaders that asked him to organize another big campaign. Their efforts paid off, because a whopping 200 million people in 141 countries celebrated Earth Day that year! Recycling efforts were boosted worldwide on Earth Day 1990, and it helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Brazil. Nelson was also awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton in 1995, which is the highest honor given to civilians in the United States, for founding Earth Day.
Today, Earth Day is celebrated by over a billion people every year, and it’s a day where people unite and fight for the health and protection of the planet.
What You Can Do To Celebrate
Here’s a list of some environmentally conscious things you can do to join in the celebration of Earth Day!
- Walk, take your bike, or carpool to and from locations
- Switch to electronic bills instead of paper bills
- Start a recycling plan
- Plant a tree
- Stop buying bottled water
- Create a garden in your own yard
- Purchase environmentally-friendly light bulbs
- Volunteer with local environmental groups
Something everyone has an interest in is our planet and its health. Nobody wants to live in a place they’re not proud to call home, so take part in protecting our planet! No matter how big or small the act is, any step you take towards creating a healthier world is a step in the right direction.