The idea of a day to celebrate our planet was proposed in 1969 by a peace activist named John McConnell. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed the idea to Congress that year. The first Earth Day was observed in the U.S. on April 22, 1970.
That same year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established to work for "a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people." Since then, Earth Day has been celebrated each year on April 22.
Brief History of Earth Day
As concerns about smog, water and air pollution grew in the 1960's, Americans increasingly worried about the environment. Nelson encouraged a grassroots effort to bring environmental issues to the forefront of American politics. He set up an organization, Environmental Teach-In, Inc., to coordinate environmental "teach-ins" in schools, universities and communities, engaging an estimated 20 million Americans the first year.
Earth Day ultimately led to the teaching of more environmental topics in the classroom, and the creation of community events centered around protecting the environment.
How Can I Celebrate Earth Day?
There's lots of ways you can mark this occasion. Since the first Earth Day, this day has become more popular, with many areas hosting a whole week, or even month, of events to celebrate. Attend an Earth Day festival. Do a beach, road cleanup, or cleanup around the grounds of your office.
Here are a few ways to celebrate Earth Day each day:
- Save water in the morning by taking a shorter shower, and not running the water when you brush your teeth.
- Reduce waste and save money by making your own coffee, and bringing it to work in a reusable mug. While you're at it, fill up a reusable water bottle with some delicious tap water to bring to work or school, too!
- At work or school, use both sides of paper and recycle everything that you can.
- Take walk at lunch, and check out the buds on the trees and new shoots coming out of the ground.
- Commit to using reusable bags when you go grocery shopping, and not using plastic bags for produce items when you're in the store.
- Buy locally-made, organic and/or natural products whenever you have the option.