The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. This day in many ways marks the start of “environmental activism” as we know it today.
The idea was drafted by Gaylor Nelson, then US senator from Wisconsin, after he saw the impact students could have on issues like these. There were small groups then protesting against environmental issues like oil spills, air pollution, pesticides etc. Nelson decided to channel all this energy and direct it towards making environment deterioration a national political agenda.
The movement started off as an environmental teach-in on college campuses and saw the participation of over 20 million Americans. It saw the support of all groups - Republicans and Democrats, city dwellers and country farmers, the rich and the poor.
The popularity and reach of the movement is evident from the fact that immediately after, US government formed the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
It is said that Nelson chose April 22 as it did not fall during exams or spring breaks, and would hence witness maximum student participation. Also, the April 19-25 week did not conflict with holidays like Easter.
Another theory is that April 22 was selected as it is celebrated as Arbor Day, a national holiday where citizens are encouraged to plant trees.
With threats like global warming looming large, it's the need of the hour for all of us to do our bit for Mother Nature.
But you needn't wait for April 22! “Earth Day" is everyday. To build a better future, we all must commit to protect our environment year-round.
What can you do on Earth Day
- Plant a tree
- Install solar panels in your house
- Save electricity by turning off unused lights
- Make people around you aware of how grave the situation is
- Start a garden in your society/locality