Oh, what a wonderful day. On 22nd April every single year, the people of this world come together to celebrate a global event that is recognized by over 190 countries – so it’s safe to say that it’s kind of a big deal. Earth Day is a time to marvel at the beauty of the natural world, it’s a time to understand the human impact on our planet, it’s a time to congratulate us all for making conscious and eco-friendly changes, and it’s a time to inspire us further to maintain harmony and balance for the rest of our days. Yes, Earth Day is pretty magical, and while you celebrate this year, it might also be time to revel in the amazing history of Earth Day…
The first idea
What’s so amazing about Earth Day is the fact that it didn’t just come from one person, but has instead transformed over the years with the help of countless volunteers, activists, and politicians. The first essence of this celebratory day came in 1969, just a few months after an oil spill devastated the coast of Santa Barbara. When an offshore oil well blew out, it caused 10,000 fatalities, including dolphins, fish, sea birds, and more.
This called for environmental activists to speak up, and it caused a peace activist by the name of John McConnell to speak at a UNESCO Conference. It was during this conference that he put forward the idea that the world should embrace a day where we could honour planet Earth and learn to understand the concept of peace. He wanted us all to celebrate this day on March 21, 1970, which just so happens to be the first day of Spring for those who live in the northern hemisphere. While numerous people joined McConnell in this idea, this was just the start of the Earth Day we know and love today.
That’s because, just one month later, a United States Senator by the name of Gaylord Nelson decided to work on John McConnell’s idea and make it into something much more official. As well as celebrating the world as they knew it, he also wanted colleges across the United States to take part in an environmental teach-in that would allow even more people to realise the effect that humans had on the world. He proposed that this would happen on April 22, which fell between Spring Break and students’ final exams, to ensure that they would achieve maximum student participation.
With the help of a student activist called Denis Hayes, they connected with around 2,000 colleges to bring the new “Earth Day” into the world. It’s believed that 20 million Americans – both in college and adults outside of the education sector – stepped out of their houses and dorm rooms to celebrate this day and bring light to environmental reform. This caused streets in New York to be shut down, speakers dawned on parks in Philadelphia, and Earth Day was well and truly born. #
Bigger and better
Since that first Earth Day celebration, this event has become even bigger and better. After the success of the 1970 teach-in and rally, Denis Hayes was able to take the concept across the globe, and it quickly became an international notion. As technology advanced and the internet became a common feature within most people’s homes, the event spread even further – and it’s now considered to be one of the most popular events of the year.
Celebrities and high-profile figures have come out in their droves to acknowledge the event and make their own pledges, and products and toolkits have since been designed to help those just starting out on their sustainable and eco-friendly adventures. Of course, it is down to each individual person as to how they want to celebrate Earth Day. You could choose to go for a walk and appreciate the natural world, you could vow to live a plastic-free lifestyle, you could donate to charities looking to change the world, or you could start on your own mission to change the world.
Whatever you choose to do on Earth Day, just remember where this day came from, and remember why it was created to begin with.
Want to make some easy eco-friendly swaps this Earth Day? We’ve got you covered!