Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22nd. Events dedicated to supporting the environment are celebrated worldwide, and over 192 countries participate in the Earth Day Network. Celebrations range from simple tree plantings to large pro-environment rallies.
The first Earth Day was launched by Senator Gaylord Nelson after an oil spill in California. Nelson worked with Congressman Pete McCloskey to promote the event. Realizing the success of the anti-war movement on college campuses, they selected April 22nd as a date when many students would be on spring break and be able to participate without worrying about missing classes or exams.
April 22nd also happens to be the birthday of Soviet Union founder Vladimir Lenin. Despite popular rumors to the contrary, this was merely by coincidence. Despite this, many people still believed Earth Day had a communist connection and the FBI closely monitored its early events.
The idea of Earth Day quickly caught on, and in 1970, 20 million Americans participated in events across the nation. By 1990, the event had grown to an international level and over 200 million people in 141 countries participated. Today, nearly every country observes Earth Day in some way.
The goal of Earth Day is to raise awareness of Environmental issues. Many demonstrations are political in nature and have the goal of influencing national and international governing bodies to pass laws that protect the environment. In addition, the event seeks to raise awareness at the individual level about what steps people can take on their own to help the environment.
How to Observe
Earth Day rallies and demonstrations are held in most cities throughout the world. If you don’t have the time or desire to attend, many people also mark the day by planting trees or other plants. This small step can help encourage friends and neighbors to improve their own landscapes and think of other ways to make their neighborhood a better place.
Giving gifts of flowers or other plants is a good way to encourage friends and family to participate. Evergreens, perennials, and other long-lasting plants are most desirable because they can be a long-lasting piece in a garden and are more sustainable than constantly replanting.