Earth Day

 

In the 1970s, air pollution was rampant; people were still using leaded gasoline; pesticides were routinely sprayed in heavily populated areas; and the Cuyahoga River in Ohio was so clogged with chemicals that it spontaneously combusted. To demand change and celebrate positive action to clean up the environement, a group of Americans came together and created Earth Day.

Earth Day is a day that is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's natural environment. Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson on April 22, 1970. The first Earth Day was focused on the United States, but it was taken international in 1990 and events  were organized in 141 nations. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and is celebrated in more than 175 countries every year. 

Numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues. In 2009, the United Nations designated April 22 International Mother Earth Day. 

Earth Day is a time when adults and children honor the planet by learning what they can do to protect and clean up the environment; raise awareness about environmental health issues; and gather public support for positive change.  More than 180 countries participate in Earth Day, about one billion people in total.
 
 

Celebrating Earth Day

 

Some ways to make a difference on Earth Day:

  • Hold educational classes outside and plant trees, flowers, vegetables, and other flora with schoolchildren.
  • Create a contest in which participants submit Earth Day related posters, essays, poetry, photography, or artwork.
  • Set up an exhibit at a local library or community center to educate community members about environmentally friendly practices they can adopt in their daily lives.
  • Host a beach or park cleanup, in which community members gather to make a local recreational area a cleaner, healthier place.
  • Organize a march or rally in your community to raise awareness about Earth Day or a particular local environmental issue.
  • Launch a lobbying campaign in which concerned citizens write letters to policymakers to encourage them to support policies that help protect the environment. 

Aid in protecting the earth on Earth Day, or any day, by adopting environmentally friendly practices:

  • Only buying appliances that have earned the Energy Star label, meaning they are specially designed to conserve energy and are endorsed by the EPA.
  • Turning off appliances and lights when you are not using them.
  • Determining if your local power supplier offers "green power" options, power sources that minimize air pollution.
  • Using less heat and air conditioning.
  • Making sure that your home is properly insulated.
  • Using compact fluorescent light bulbs in your home and office.
  • Not running water unnecessarily, whether in the sink, dishwasher, or shower.
  • Taking quick showers instead of baths.
  • Washing only full loads of dishes and laundry.
  • Practice the 4Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, and re-buy.

Since the first Earth Day, much of the world has responded to the call to protect the environment to create a safer, healthier future for us all.

If you are interested in getting involved in local Earth Day events, find events in your area at the Earth Day Network.  You can also easily incorporate Earth Day principles into your every day life by practicing Green Health.