Earth Day


Elizabeth Kane, Staff Writer

What is Earth Day?

Every year, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 to mark the birth of a movement to be environmentally conscious that started in 1970.

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Origins of Earth Day:

Throughout the mid-twentieth century, Americans were burning an extreme amount of leaded gas in cars and other modes of transportation. Toxic smoke, gas, and sludge were fed into the atmosphere with little fear of consequences. Air pollution was thought of as a necessary evil for wealth. Most of America was oblivious to this environmental threat until Rachel Carson released Silent Spring in 1962. The book quickly sold more than 500,000 copies as it raised awareness and concern about pollution on public health.

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The junior senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, had longstanding concerns about environmental pollution in the United States. After witnessing the massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1969, he was inspired to create a public movement to raise consciousness about air and water pollution. With the help of 85 staff members, Senator Nelson helped inspire 20 million Americans (10% of the population at that time) to take to the streets to demonstrate against the impacts of industry on public health. This movement brought groups that had been fighting individually against oil spills, raw sewage, pesticides and more, together. Earth Day 1970 attained a rare political alignment where Republicans and Democrats alike came together and eventually created the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The creation of Earth Day in 1970 put environmental concerns at the forefront of people’s minds and was able to inspire political action about a 150 year old issue.

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Earth Day Globally:

Around 1990, a group of environment leaders had the idea to make Earth Day global. Mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries, environmental issues were brought to the world stage. As a result of Earth Day in 1990, recycling efforts dramatically increased and inspired the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit.


What Can You Do to Protect the Earth?

  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Remain conscious about what you throw away. Reducing, reusing, and recycling helps conserve natural resources and landfill space.
  • Volunteer! Participate in cleanups and planting tree movements in your neighborhood!
  • Educate yourself on the importance of natural resources and protecting the environment.
  • Bike more, and drive less!