It is a lovely day to appreciate the planet we live on. With an entire day dedicated to the celebration of Earth, it’s hard not to think about the environment we live in. This was exactly the idea behind Earth Day when it was founded in 1970. The anti-war movements of students around the nation during the Vietnam War inspired Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day and former U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. After a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, Senator Nelson strove to inspire the same public awareness and action to the environmental movement. Uniting politicians from both political parties, Earth Day was born.
On April 22nd, 1970, 20 million Americans hosted demonstrations and rallies calling for a healthy environment and protesting destructive practices such as pollution and habitat destruction. Aside from raising awareness, this first Earth Day served to unite the many parties that had been advocating for environmental reform, but hadn’t yet realized their common interests. The first Earth Day was a huge success. It led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.
Since 1970, Earth Day has gone international. In 2000, a record 5,000 environmental groups in 184 countries used both new online and practiced grassroots techniques to educate the public and raise environmental awareness to current issues. As the largest civic event in the world, Earth Day still accomplishes its original goal of regenerating public commitment, engaging activism and gaining support for environmental programs.
So, how should you celebrate Earth Day? By helping the Earth, of course! The opportunities are endless. Help raise awareness in your local community about an issue you feel passionate about. Plant a tree. Volunteer at an organized event. Organize an event! Think of ways to improve your community and help the planet, such as planting a public garden or cleaning up a park. Brainstorm with friends or classmates. Write a letter to an elected representative. Be creative, and have fun!