If you’ve heard about Earth Day but aren’t quite sure what it is?
Then you’re not alone.
We’ve put together this awesome guide to walk you through it so that you can celebrate with the rest of us on April 22!
What Is Earth Day?
Not to be confused with World Environment Day, Earth Day takes place on April 22 every year and it is meant to mark the birth of the modern environmental movement which took place in 1970.
There is a formal Earth Day Network and you can learn a lot from the official Earth Day website about celebrating Earth Day and learn more about renewable resources, climate change, natural resources, and tap into a ton of environmental data there too.
It is, first and foremost, a day where the environmentally responsible get involved with environmental protection and minimize their environmental impact.
These can be done in a myriad of different ways from adopting sustainable practices to eliminating toxic chemicals or single-use plastics, etc.
How Do People Celebrate Earth Day?
Everyone is free to make a difference on Earth Day and many do so by engaging in fun crafts and outdoor activities that have a positive impact on the environment and the world around them.
When Did Earth Day Start?
Before Earth Day arrived on the scene, Americans were only beginning to understand the need for an Environmental Protection Agency and the impacts on human health from activities as diverse as creating plastic waste to dumping trash in the oceans or producing energy.
Air pollution had been accepted by most people as a sign of their own prosperity and communities and children suffered mainly in silence as the government and its agencies encourage people to produce more and more without any concern for the consequences of their actions.
Environmentalists in this environment were considered oddballs and even action to promote something such as “stop deforestation!” would have been very confusing for the average American.
Silent Spring: A Book In Defense Of The Natural World
Things began to change, however, in 1962 when Rachel Carson published the book, Silent Spring.
It is now considered to be the book that launched the grassroots movement concerned with protecting the environment.
The active role the book played at the time was to demonstrate how widespread the use of chemical pesticides was in the United States and just how damaging that was to our kids, to our health, and to the Earth itself.
In 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin began to progress the ideas raised in Silent Spring and to add his own perspectives.
He had witnessed the devastation of an oil spill in California (in Santa Barbara) and wanted to see the world start to turn in a more sustainable way.
He teamed up with the activist Denis Heyes and the congressman Pete McCloskey and together they opted to harness the kind of spirit that they’d seen kids bring to bear on the establishment when protesting the Vietnam war.
On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day took place thanks to the efforts of these three men.
The Power Of Community – You Can Do More Than Fight Plastic Bags
From the start, they knew that Earth day activities would need to be powerful if they were to have an impact.
Hayes, as an experienced activist, helped to bring about an organization built on activism – he recruited over 80 staff to the national effort and they, in turn, brought nearly 20 million Americans out to support the aims of Earth Day!
That was an incredible 10% of the population back in 1970! It turned out that the American soul was thirsting for a more sustainable way of lie and now that resources were being devoted to this task? The sky was the limit on what they could achieve.
The Goals Of Earth Day
The network has three main goals:
- To ensure that “environment” is defined broadly enough to encompass all related goals from addressing carbon dioxide, to fast fashion, to excess waste, etc.
- To diversity the movement to ensure that all those affected at any level of government can be heard on the issues and with an acknowledgment that certain issues will have a greater impact on certain peoples first. And that these communities should be prioritized when tackling the issues.
- To mobilize people and organizations to act in concert so that everyone on the planet who wants to get involved with saving their planet can.
The Core Issues Of Earth Day
These goals are then broken down into 10 key issues that the network intends to address:
- Creating advocacy. The first step in solving issues for the planet is to get people talking about the issues and cooperating with others to tackle them.
- Creating awareness and action on climate change. This is a major issue for all of us and they look to increase our understanding of how we create this problem with our own actions and how we can tackle this.
- Promoting conservation and biology. There is a strong focus on encouraging people to get involved in biodiversity projects that seek to preserve the planet and the ecosystems on it so that every community can benefit from them.
- Encouraging and delivering education. If you can convince kids to go green, then it may be that our future can be saved by today’s children. This issue involves encouraging participation from teachers and tutors worldwide to help ensure that all children can get the learning they need to better understand the planet around them.
- Putting energy into context. That means investing in projects that try to develop renewable energy but also in ways that encourage the transition from fossil fuels. One excellent example of this in action was when the people of Qatar agreed to turn off the power for an hour a year (on April 22, not coincidentally) to take a stand against the human creation of global warming.
- Food & Agriculture changes. This may focus on anything from raising awareness of the impact of farming practices on human health to better ways to use organic trees. There is very much an emphasis on sustainability and local production which helps to save nature by cutting down on exhaust waste.
- Creating a green economy. This involves supporting green industries, creating partnerships and cooperation within these industries, showcasing leaders, and offering them tips and support to save the planet.
- Green Schools. This includes the National GREEN Schools Campaign which helps to show how sustainability can be built into the classroom and so that every child can understand green issues from their health to sustainable building practices.
- Recycling and lowering waste production. The best way to prevent pollution is to reduce waste and stop dumping it into nature.
- Sustainable development goals. You can’t save trees without sustainable development practices. This means putting an emphasis on projects which deliver measurable benefits for the Earth.
When Did Earth Day Go Global?
Oddly, Earth Day was once an America-only thing but in 1990, activists from across the globe asked Dennis Hayes if he’d take his messages planet-wide and he agreed.
This time, it saw 200 million people across the globe come together in an incredible 141 different countries to support the environmental objectives of the movement and deliver a clear message to the world’s politicians that this is a subject that really matters to people.
It also saw Senator Gaylord Nelson presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bil Clinton for his role in founding the movement.
Earth Day For The New Millennium
By the year 2000, Earth Day saw 5,000 groups, hundreds of millions of individuals across an incredible 184 countries come together!
There could no longer be any doubt in the minds of any politicians anywhere on Earth.
People wanted to see positive change for the world that they lived in and they wanted it now.
Changes For The 201X’s
One of the major changes to hit the movement in the 201X’s was the way that everyone moved online.
The official website (linked earlier in this article) became a huge resource for global action and to create opportunities for engagement and volunteers in 193 different countries.
More and more people flocked to the cause too and now, Earth Day brings more than 1 billion together every April 22.
How Does Earth Day Work Now?
It is now officially, the largest secular observance globally.
Activism is reaching record levels and the strength of public opinion has the power to dictate to politicians and industry what must happen to make the world a better place – if it can be harnessed effectively.
This is a diverse and exciting movement that aims to make a difference for every single person alive today or in the future.
Final Thoughts On Earth Day
Everyone should take part in Earth Day and everyone should be conscious of the impact that their actions have on others and on the world around them.
With a bit of luck, now that you’re familiar with the objectives of the day, you’re in agreement and will be taking part on April 22. We hope to see you there!