What is Earth Day?
Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22. Events worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and celebrated in more than 193 countries each year.
The history of Earth Day
The first Earth Day – April 22, 1970 – marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement by a senator from Wisconsin, USA, Gaylord Nelson. The senator was worried about the rate of industrialisation and the careless attitude of everyone towards our environment. It was envisaged to promote the idea of ecology, to encourage respect for life on Earth, and highlight growing concerns about different kinds of pollution.
Over 20 million Americans participated in events to mark the first Earth Day and it turned out to be so contagious that today, over a billion people from all over the globe celebrate Earth Day. The first Earth Day celebrations took place in two thousand colleges and universities, roughly ten thousand primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities across the United States.
Why do we celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd?
Some say April 22 was chosen to maximize the number of students who could be reached on university campuses, and that’s undoubtedly true. But the April 22 date for the first Earth Day also stemmed from a much-earlier observance: Arbor Day, which began in Nebraska in 1872.
J. Sterling Morton was a Nebraska pioneer, a writer and editor for Nebraska’s first newspaper, and later secretary of the Nebraska Territory. He advocated planting trees in what was then a dusty and treeless prairie. At a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture in January 1872, Morton proposed that Nebraska citizens set aside April 10 as a day to plant trees. He suggested offering prizes as incentives for communities and organizations that planted the most trees. It’s said that Nebraskans planted about one million trees on that first Arbor Day in 1872. Ten years later, in 1882, Nebraska declared Arbor Day as a legal holiday and the date was changed to Morton’s birthday, April 22. Arbor Day grew to become a national observance.
It seemed natural to schedule April 22, 1970 – Arbor Day – as the first Earth Day. Today, a common practice in celebration of Earth Day is still to plant new trees.
The legacy continues
It is now observed in 192 countries, and coordinated by the non-profit Earth Day Network, chaired by the first Earth Day 1970 organizer Denis Hayes. According to him, Earth Day is now "the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year". Environmental groups have sought to make Earth Day into a day of action to change human behavior and provoke policy changes.
How can you contribute?
Every year on April 22, men, women, and children collect garbage, plant trees, clean up coral reefs, show movies, sign petitions, and plan for a better future for our planet. How can you contribute?
- Walk to work, cycle or commute by public transport.
- Use a reusable coffee cup.
- Make sure you recycle.
- Go paperless, unless crucial.
- Take a tote bag to your local grocery shop.
- Plant a tree.
- Go meat or dairy-free at least once a week.
- Carry a reusable water bottle.
- Add the Earth Mode Google Chrome extension to your browser to monitor your energy use.
5 interesting Earth Day facts
- Earth Day was renamed officially by the UN in 2009 as International Mother Earth Day.
- On Earth Day 2009, Disney released a documentary film called Earth that followed the migration paths of four animal families.
- In an Earth Day celebration in 2011, 28 million trees were planted in Afghanistan by the Earth Day Network.
- On Earth Day 2012, more than 100,000 people rode bikes in China to reduce CO2 emissions and save fuel.
- In Panama, 100 endangered species of orchids were planted and maintained to prevent their extinction in honor of Earth Day.
Wondering why you should care? The answer is simple, it is not just about what we do with what we have, but what we leave for the next generation to come. Not taking a printed receipt, segregating waste, using the stairs instead of the elevator or even carrying a bag to a store might seem troublesome now, but at the end, it is all worth the effort. Mother Earth is worth all the effort!
Have any other ideas to do your bit for the world? Post it in the comments!
Source: Dosomething.org, The Telegraph,
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