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Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22. This year will be the 51st year that this day is celebrated as it started in 1970. This is a day used to inform people about environmental issues that are currently present in the United States and motivate people to be invested in saving our earth. This is a great day to take action and participate in activities that benefit our earth such as participating in events to clean up pollution in the community.
The formal celebration of Earth Day dates to 1970, however, in the 1960’s, the start of Earth Day celebrations began with Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson who was determined to show the federal government that our planet was at risk. Nelson wanted to increase public awareness regarding air and water pollution. Nelson led many protests in the 1960’s in relation to pollution. He recruited Pete McCloskey, a Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair. Together they recruited Denis Hayes to organize college campus teach-ins regarding the environment. Together they chose April 22nd as Earth Day as it was fell between spring break and final exams so that they could maximize the number of student participation for this celebration.
In the late 1960s, Hayes formed a national staff of 85 members to promote events across the United States. These individuals created the title of “Earth Day”. Earth Day inspired 20 million Americans to participate in the protests against pollution and industrial development that has had many serious human health impacts. The goal was to raise public awareness around pollution and bring support towards environmental issues.
After the celebration of the first earth day on April 22, 1970, there was the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and many other acts such as the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Water Act were proposed and later put into place.
Since the 1960’s there have been many individuals and groups that have inspired changes to support our environment. We need to continue to make change and protect our earth. Below are a few ways that we can actively protect the environment. The below list is not exhausted and there are many more things that can be done to benefit the environment.
Things to do to Protect our Earth:
There are many things that you can do to celebrate Earth Day and protect our planet.
- Carpool with friends to work to reduce your carbon footprint. This year, this is something that might not be as relevant as many are still working from home, however, is something that is essential when we return to normalcy.
- Change your paper bills to online billing. You will be saving trees!
- One of the biggest things that can be done to support our planet is picking up trash that you see while you are out walking! Oftentimes, communities will hold events where the sole purpose is to pick up trash that is found in the community.
- Recycle. Reduce the number of items you are throwing away.
- Use reusable bags and water bottles whenever possible.
- Advocate for our government to make climate change a core feature of school curriculum across the globe. Learn more at https://www.earthday.org/campaign/climate-environmental-literacy/
- Spread the word to others about ways to protect our earth. It is important for everyone to know different ways that they can make a change!
- On Earth Day and the days leading up to it, there are many virtual events that anyone can attend to gain more information from informed individuals regarding climate change and ways to benefit our earth. Look for events in your area using: https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2021/#map
- Find more ways to protect our planet at https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-tips/
These are things that should be done throughout the year, not just on Earth Day. We need to be diligent about saving our earth and protecting our planet.
Author: Samantha Potocnik– Samantha is an intern at EVOLVE and a student at the University of Wisconsin River Falls.