The Importance of Earth Day

The Importance of Earth Day

The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.
—Gaylord Nelson (1916-2005), former governor of Wisconsin, founder of Earth Day

What is Earth Day? How did it originate?

Earth Day is a day designed to be spent celebrating the planet's clean natural resources. In recent years, the day has been used to raise awareness about global climate change and environmental issues. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Earth Day was first celebrated in the U.S. in 1970. At that time, the EPA did not exist and there was no government oversight of the environment so a junior senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, came up with Earth Day as a way to draw attention to the cause. 

Senator Nelson had long been concerned about the deteriorating environment in the United States and in January 1969, he and many others witnessed the devastating effects of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.  Inspired by the student anti-war movement, Senator Nelson leveraged the energy of student anti-war protests with growing public awareness of air and water pollution and created the concept of campus teach-ins.  These teach-ins helped to highlight the growing environmental concerns, bring them into the national spotlight and on to the political agenda.

Learn More About Gaylord Nelson

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, where an estimated 20 million people, from 10,000 elementary and high schools, 2,000 colleges, and over 1,000 communities participated in rallies all across the US promoting a more sustainable environment. Later that same year, Congress authorized the creation of the EPA to oversee environmental issues. 

In 1990, Earth Day became a worldwide celebration.

What is Earth Month?

Earth Month is the month surrounding Earth Day, which is April. The idea of Earth Month is that we should care and learn about our home for more than just a single day of the year. Focusing one month of the year on climate change and sustainability can help everybody develop more eco-friendly lifestyles.

Whether you are an individual or represent an organization, school or municipality, there are many activities that you can get involved in to celebrate Earth Month.

Earth Month Activities

Looking to celebrate Earth Day?

This year’s Earth Day theme is “Invest In Our Planet” ​and represents the 52nd anniversary of this holiday. 

We can celebrate the importance of our planet by making small changes to our habits, lifestyle and the way we think.  Collectively, these changes can have a massive global impact on our environmental footprint. 

Looking to participate in a teach-in, park or beach clean-up near to you on Earth Day, consult the calendar of events below to find an event near to you.

Find local Earth Day events
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