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. . . we see the face of our planet anew.
We relish the view;
We witness its round green and brilliant blue,
Which inspires us to ask deeply, wholly:
What can we do?
Open your eyes.
Know that the future of
this wise planet
Lies right in sight:
Right in all of us.
—Amanda Gorman, “Earthrise”
A hallmark of spring, Earth Day is celebrated by millions around the globe. Today, April 22, marks the fifty-second anniversary of the very first Earth Day celebration. In the following, we offer a brief history of the impactful beginning of this holiday and offer ways to inspire motivation within yourself and others to take on what you can to help our environment.
First proposed in 1969 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, included rallies held in Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, and most other American cities, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Earth Day events were organized nationally by a handful of young activists and local volunteers as an event to educate folks about environmental issues.
The first Earth Day was effective at raising awareness about environmental issues and transforming public attitudes at measurable levels—exceeding all expectations, 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day observance. And, according to the EPA, “Public opinion polls indicate that a permanent change in national priorities followed Earth Day 1970. When polled in May 1971, 25 percent of the U.S. public declared protecting the environment to be an important goal, a 2,500 percent increase over 1969.”
This in turn kicked off a series of events that together worked to establish the importance of a clean environment. In December 1970, the establishment of the EPA itself began the important work of protecting human health and safeguarding the natural environment—air, water, and land. Throughout the 1970s, a number of important pieces of environmental legislation were passed, including the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.
The theme for Earth Day 2022 is "Invest in Our Planet," focusing on the effects of climate change on the planet and what efforts are being made in the real world to mitigate it. According to Earthday.org, who claims to be “the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 150,000 partners in over 192 countries to drive positive action for our planet,” Earth Day 2022 will center on “accelerating solutions to combat our greatest threat, climate change, and to activate everyone—governments, citizens, and businesses—to do their part.”
Taking part in activities that proactively influence our world’s environments is easy not only for you but for your children and students. Get kids out into the garden with any of these six garden-based activities from The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids. This list from Outward Bound provides not only suggestions for outdoors-based activities that you can incorporate into your everyday life but inside activities meant to inspire you beyond April 22. For instance, brush up on the leave no trace principles and see which you’re already actively living in your day-to-day life and which you can turn into new habits or watch Amanda Gorman deliver her poem, “Earthrise.”
Again, there are many things you can do to support our planet and multiple ways to get connected locally to your community on Earth Day. If you’re looking for an event, like a group cleanup project, or climate strike rally to join, visit the global interactive map on Earth Day Networks’ website. Or check out National Today for more history, a timeline of events stemming from the first Earth Day, some fun facts, and more ways you can get involved with cleaning up your act on Earth beyond April 22.
Get inspired for Earth Day with our collection of activity kits and demonstrations for hands-on learning of various alternative energy and remediation solutions for the planet. And orders over $25 ship for free!
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