April 22nd may just seem like any old day to many people. To others, this is better known as Earth Day. It is one of the few environmental holidays around that celebrates our planet across all countries. The holiday has activism in its roots, although it is a widely peaceful holiday. Earth Day serves as an important reminder that not doing anything impacts the environment just the same as harming it.
In the late 1960s, people were becoming more aware of their surroundings along with many of the atrocities that were taking place. This was also the start of the early stages of the modern day environmental movement. The public started to question how oil use impacted the environment. Major cities across the United States were already suffering from air pollution, including Los Angeles.
In 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin was inspired to create a day for environmental awareness after seeing a tragic oil spill in southern California. He also gained inspiration from young activists of the day who regularly stood up against officials for wrongdoings, such as war and racism.
Senator Nelson declared the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. During this day, 20 million people took the streets in support of this concept. Earth Day was founded as a way to help increase environmental awareness, as well as promote changes within communities to help make the world a better place for everyone.
The first Earth Day was so successful that it spawned a non-profit group called the Earth Day Network in 1993. Now the holiday is celebrated in almost 200 countries and by over 500 million people globally. It is considered one of the largest secular holidays in the world, and one that everyone has a stake in.
Types of Celebrations
While Earth Day may have been inspired by activism and protests, this holiday is celebrated in numerous ways. Children are encouraged to participate by making pictures of the earth or helping grown-ups plant trees. Mass recycling and trash pickup events are also often organized on Earth Day.
Educational events are numerous on this holiday. Some of the facts may come across as negative, but the overall message of Earth Day is a positive one. People are encouraged to celebrate the holiday in their own way, but the point is that everyone can make a difference in the environment by making small changes in their lifestyles.
To some people, making personal changes isn’t enough. Earth Day is often a day for protests across the globe, particularly against oil manufacturers and other industries that are viewed as negatively contributing to the environment. The majority of these protests are peaceful, but they can be dangerous in nations that do not protect freedom of speech as openly as the United States.
While Earth Day has undoubtedly gained many supporters over the last few decades, it is not considered an official public holiday. If Earth Day falls on a weekday, schools, banks and government offices are still open. In some environmental industries, however, some employers grant their workers the day off or host celebrations at work. Many teachers have taken Earth Day a step further by including lessons about the environment over the course of the entire week.