How much do you know about Earth Day?

earth day

Earth Day is celebrated annually on 22nd April, and it is a day of global action dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation for our one and only planet. It’s a reminder to us all to protect our environment and participate in change for a more sustainable future. The United Nations General Assembly officially proclaimed 22nd April to be “International Mother Earth Day” in a resolution in 2009. But how did this worldwide movement begin?

 

Roots of the Earth Day Movement
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The seeds of Earth Day were sown in the 1960s amidst growing concerns about chemical industrial pollution. Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book “Silent Spring” (1962) exposed the devastating effects of pesticides on wildlife in World War II, sparking a wave of environmental activism against industrial pollution. Public outrage reached fever pitch after a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, in 1969, which killed thousands of animals. It galvanized intense media coverage and citizens to demand action, spurring the formation of a new environmental movement, and eventually, a new U.S. legal and regulatory framework for protecting the environment.

 

 

Senator Nelson’s Vision

 

Inspired by the anti-Vietnam War ‘teach-ins’, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson envisioned a nationwide environmental teach-in to bring environmental issues to the forefront of American politics. He enlisted a young activist at Harvard University, Denis Hayes, to coordinate the effort, and they settled on April 22nd to maximize participation on American college campuses. The teach-ins helped educate students across the USA and they began to demand that Congress pass legislation to protect the environment.

 

 

The First Earth Day – Mass Mobilization

 

On April 22nd, 1970, something really extraordinary happened. An estimated 20 million Americans attended the inaugural events at many types of educational institutions, as well as protests, speeches and debates, to demonstrate their commitment to a healthy planet. Earth Day brought together people from all walks of life – Republicans and Democrats, city dwellers and farmers, business leaders and unions – in a display of unity that we can hardly imagine today.

 

 

The Impact: A New Era

 

Earth Day 1970’s success made a huge impact. It ignited legislative action that marked a turning point in improving environmental protections. In the same year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created, closely followed by landmark legislation, including the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Earth Day showed that grassroots movements had the power to shape public policy and shift priorities when it comes to the environment.

 

 

A Global Movement

 

In 1990, still under the leadership of Denis Hayes, Earth Day went global. Around 200 million people in 141 countries mobilized, giving environmental issues a worldwide stage. Since then, participation has grown, with Earth Day now observed in 193 countries, which is coordinated by Earthday.org.

 

 

Earth Day 2024

 

Earth Day has evolved into an official UN day, and a global platform for campaigning to address our planet’s most pressing challenges. Earth Day mobilizes individuals and organizations around issues like climate change, biodiversity, clean energy, and pollution.

 

Each year, Earth Day focuses on a specific theme, bringing attention to urgent problems. In 2024, the theme of Earth Day is PLANET VS PLASTICS, which is highlighting how fragments called “microplastics” are leaching toxic chemicals into our food chains, water and eco-systems. Unlike organic matter, plastics don’t “break down” they “break apart”.

 

The spirit of the first Earth Day remains a driving force. It’s a call to be responsible stewards of our planet all year round through small actions, multiplied across the globe. If you’d like to get involved in Earth Day on 22nd April, and every day, here are some ideas to get you started:

 

Pick up rubbish every time you visit the park and the beach;

Plant flowers, shrubs and trees native to where you live;

Conserve rain water for your garden;

Reduce, reuse and recycle;

When possible, use clean energy for your home and business;

If you can, adopt measures to make your business more sustainable;

If it’s an option for you, consider adopting responsible investing practices. Take our quiz to think more deeply about your personal ESG philosophy.

 

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