Earth Day is upon us! Are you ready to celebrate? Or maybe you don’t know how you should celebrate—what can you do to truly show your appreciation for our planet?
It may help to better understand the history of Earth Day and why we even have Earth Day. Let’s talk about some fun facts about Earth Day to give you some needed context.
5 Fun Facts About Earth Day You May Not Know
To really familiarize ourselves with Earth Day, we should first consider its history. Here are five fun facts about Earth Day you may not have heard before.
Earth Day Was Inspired by Oil Spills and the Vietnam War
Former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson conceptualized the first Earth Day in 1970. A couple of events inspired the origin of Earth Day:
The first was when he witnessed the aftermath of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 1969. The oil spill, which was caused by a blowout in one of the platforms of an offshore oil drilling operation, dumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean. The disaster killed thousands of seabirds and aquatic creatures and turned the golden beaches of California into black, sludgy shores. Seeing this inspired him to take a harder stand on the world’s impact on the environment.
The senator was also inspired by the protests against the Vietnam War that were so prevalent in the late 1960s. Seeing the pressure these protests put on the U.S. government, he decided Earth Day could be used to apply pressure regarding environmental issues, such as oil spills and pesticide usage.
Earth Day Is a Global Phenomenon
After the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, many other countries quickly adopted it. By 1971, the United Nations officially recognized Earth Day, encouraging its members to celebrate it either on April 22 or during the vernal equinox.
Fast-forward to today, and you’ll see that Earth Day celebrations have spread all over the world. According to the official Earth Day website, over 190 countries worldwide engage in some form of Earth Day activity, mobilizing over one billion people to take environmental action during their celebration.
Earth Day Inspired Real Change for Environmental Legislation
Earth Day was initially created to raise awareness about environmental issues and pressure local governments to take a stand against those issues. This pressure elicited real change.
In 1970, the Clean Air Act was enacted, forcing companies to limit their emissions for the sake of public health. Two years later, the Clean Water Act was created to penalize companies who dumped pollutants into rivers, lakes, and the ocean.
These were some of the first regulations ever created in favor of environmental stewardship. Since then, many other laws have passed to protect the environment and its inhabitants—we can thank Earth Day for starting that domino effect.
Earth Day’s Date Was Chosen to Appeal to College Students
April 22 may seem like a random day for a holiday. But it was chosen with a very clear purpose—to promote maximum participation among college students.
April 22 falls between Spring Break and finals week for most colleges in the United States. This is why Senator Nelson and Denis Hayes, a graduate student who helped develop Earth Day, chose this specific day. Because students wouldn’t be stressed or occupied with studying for finals, they theorized more college students would be willing to participate in Earth Day-related activities.
Earth Day Has a New Theme Every Year
For many, Earth Day is simply a day to appreciate our planet and perhaps a day to spend picking up litter or reading up about climate-related issues. But did you know there are specific themes every year for Earth Day?
That’s right—throughout the history of Earth Day, each year has featured a different theme, all of which are related to the protection of Earth and its ecosystems. Here’s a sample of the themes from recent years:
- 2017: Environmental and Climate Literacy
- 2018: End Plastic Pollution
- 2019: Protect Our Species
- 2020: Climate Action
- 2021: Restore Our Earth
- 2022: Invest in Our Planet
How You Can Celebrate Earth Day This Year
We’ve got you covered if you’re looking for a way to celebrate Earth Day a little more deliberately this year. Here are 11 ways you can celebrate.
- Find an Earth Day event in your area.
- Take a hike through nature.
- Plant an herb garden.
- Start a flower garden with plants native to your area.
- Organize a cleanup activity to pick up litter.
- Avoid eating meat for a day to fight climate change.
- Contact your local representative and encourage them to support bills that help the environment.
- Avoid using plastic bags and other single-use plastics.
- Switch to paperless billing with your bank.
- Repurpose and reuse common household items.
- Buy your groceries locally that day, or go to a restaurant that supports local farmers.
Make Every Day an Earth Day
While all of these ideas can make for a more fulfilling Earth Day celebration, don’t feel limited to just the one day—incorporating these activities into your everyday life can help you make bigger strides toward helping the environment.
We need environmental enthusiasts like you to work toward a greener earth. If you’re looking for more ways to help the environment, you should consider what having an energy-efficient home can mean for the Earth. Check out Kiwi Energy’s best home energy efficiency tips.