Earth Day on the 22nd of April is the day in the calendar year where we all band together to call for support in the protection of the environment. Each year it is celebrated in over 190 countries worldwide, and is coordinated by Earth Day Network. Every year people plant trees, collect garbage, use less energy, and even sign many petitions.
Chosen to be on the 22nd because it fell during the optimum week for colleges (in between spring breaks and exams), and officially renamed as International Mother Earth Day by the UN in 2009, it truly is a global force. Originally only a single day, many places now celebrate an Earth Week, in appreciation of our beautiful planet.
But how did it all begin?
Over 40 years ago, in 1970, the first Earth Day was held as a demonstration in the USA. With over 20 million people taking to public places for sustainability and environmental awareness, it was extremely successful. The brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson (at the time), following the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, the movement was largely inspired by the anti-Vietnam war movement.
After announcing his plan to the national media, and convincing Congressman Pete McCloskey to co-chair, the event became one of the few causes to garner support from both Democrats and Republicans. It was so successful that it directly led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
In 1990, again, Denis Hayes, the national coordinator, began to organize a widespread campaign; this time global. Earth Day 1990, mobilized 200 million people worldwide in 141 countries and paved the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit.
It was at the turn of the millennium, for Earth Day 2000, that environmental organizations banded together to create sustainable projects and incorporate the ongoing grassroots activism to the already established event. It became more than people demonstrating on a single day of the year; it shifted into being a day of celebration of all that has been done for the planet’s environment, as well as call for more decisive action on matters.
Since then, the awareness for climate change and global warming, as well as sustainability and environment protection has grown and become a more important point on all the world’s agenda.
As we participate in our environmental causes today, and for the rest of this week, it is a great reminder that we should appreciate the beauty of the Earth, and life around us – not only now, but always.