The significance of Earth Day

Today is Earth day. It is a day that unites individuals to focus on protecting the planet and demonstrate support for environmental protection. It began in the US on April 22nd 1970 as a day of environmental protection and is now a wide range of global events around the world with over 1 billion individuals from over 190 countries engaged.

Image credit: Photo by Lauris Rozentāls

Origins of Earth Day

Earth Day was started in the US when they were experiencing political and economic ups and downs. The majority of the country were divided and even though the economy was thriving it was costing the environment in a big way.

However, this gave a voice to an emerging public consciousness about the state of our planet and its deterioration. This was further justified with the publication of ‘Silent Spring’ by Rachel Carson in 1962 which painted the picture of environmental decline due to the adverse environmental effects caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides. The book has now sold over six million copies worldwide and has been translated into over 30 languages. The book is regarded to have launched the environmental movement and has been named by discover magazine as one of the 25 greatest science books of all time.    

The first Earth Day and going global

On April 22, 1970, the US celebrated the first Earth Day. It caught the attention of over 20 million people around the US who gathered together holding rallies, demonstrations and participating in activities to promote a clean and safe living environment. Children, adults, students young and old marched on government institutions pushing for new legislation to protect the Earth on local, state and national levels.

Earth Day also saw unprecedented unity among Republicans, Democrats, and individuals of all social and economic backgrounds. The first Earth Day efforts led to the founding of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act.

As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders wanted organise another major campaign for the planet. This time, Earth Day went global. It engaged over 200 million people in 141 countries and gave environmental issues a world stage. Today, Earth Day is widely recognised as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behaviour and create global, national and local policy changes.

Image credits: Photo by Akil Mazumder

Ways to celebrate Earth Day

This year the Earth Day theme is ‘Restore our Earth’. There are many ways at home that you can celebrate and honour the Earth, here are a few ideas; 

  • Contact politicians. In the UK on May 6th there are local elections taking place so read manifestos and vote for the climate. You can also email politicians to ask them to support environmental causes when they are being discussed in parliament. 
  • Buy local. Buying local enables you to reduce the shipping distances and the carbon footprint of products you consume, as well as supporting local communities and businesses.
  • Act local. Get involved in environmental work in your local community. Local schools, governments, and non-profit organizations often offer opportunities for volunteers to get involved in cleaning up parks, restoring habitats, and other efforts to make communities greener.
  • Eat plant based for the day. The agriculture industry has a huge impact on global emissions and is directly responsible for around 14 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Going plant based is a great way to minimise your impact on the natural environment.
  • Attend online events. There are many events taking place covering a vast array of topics such as education, Climate and environmental literacy, Climate restoration technologies, Reforestation efforts and many others for full details check out the Earth Day website here.

There are various ways to celebrate Earth Day not only on April 22nd but every day of the year. Keeping the environment clean, safe and enjoyable for all of its inhabitants is a full-time job that anyone can participate in. Let us know how you will be celebrating Earth Day this year!

About the author: Isabelle Eaton has recently completed her undergraduate degree and is now starting her Masters studying Sustainable Development at UWE. She is also the Wildlife and Environment Editor here at Wild Magazine and is working towards a career in conservation so she can make a positive impact on the world.

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