Christmas, Easter, Diwali, Eid, Rosh Hashanah – the list of religious festivals celebrated goes on and on, but there is one day a year which attempts to bring together people from all denominations and walks of life: Earth Day. But what is Earth Day and why is it important that it’s marked? We’ve done some research to help answer any questions you may have.
Earth Day was first introduced by peace activist John McConnell, originally marked on the 21st March 1970 in conjunction with the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, to create awareness around how we treat the planet. Many believe the founding of Earth Day kickstarted the modern environmental movements we know today. With the late 1960s and early 1970s marking protest after protest against the Vietnam War, Earth Day harvested that feeling of anger and focused it on the lack of care for the environment. This US-based event encouraged 20 million Americans to get outside and partake in peaceful demonstrations. US Senator Gaylord Nelson went even further and decreed that the 22nd April would mark an annual ‘environmental teach-in’, later known as Earth Day, to encourage change and promote knowledge and responsibility. Due to his work and dedication he was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award.
1990 marked the 20th anniversary of the founding of Earth Day, with 200 million people across 141 countries taking a stand in helping to preserve the environment. The Earth Day Network, run by co-founder Denis Hayes, noted that due to this celebration worldwide recycling efforts were boosted, showing that hard work pays off.
The year 2000 swung around quickly after, with the internet becoming a key marketing tool in spreading the message of the Day, helping to link activists from all over the globe. The ambitious spirit of the 1970 protests combined with the grassroots activism of the 1990s, with 183 countries taking part. By 2010, the Earth Day Network stated that 900,000 individuals had joined their online community, standing together to promote care for the planet. Continuing with the ‘aim to build a clean, healthy, diverse world’ for future generations, it’s estimated that 192 countries will take part in 2015, the 45th anniversary of Earth Day.
Now, with Earth Day being such a huge, global phenomenon, you may be wondering how you can get involved to help bring around change. It’s simple really – anything you can do at home to help the environment makes a difference, but if you’re stuck here’re some ideas:
- Recycling: simple recycling efforts make all the difference, reducing the amount of rubbish accumulating in dumps up and down the country.
- Litter-picking: being mindful to use allocated bins stops litter covering our streets. How about joining a local litter picking or beach cleaning group?
- Gardening: planting and maintaining your garden, whether you have acres of land or a simple window-box, helps encourage wildlife and insects, key aspects of our environment and ecosystem. Or how about collecting food scraps to create your own compost? CareCo and CareCo Gardening both stock a wide variety of products to help you get started!
- Ditch the car: Leaving the car behind and walking or cycling short journeys reduces the amount of air pollution created, and are also great forms of gentle exercise. If you need help why not take a look at our selection of walking aids?
- Campaigning: this can be as simple as writing a letter to your local MP or signing an online petition to encourage the government to make further plans to tackle climate change.
- Donating to charity: this doesn’t necessarily mean a financial donation. How about rooting through your belongings and donating old items to charity shops or taking them to local recycling bins. This small action reduces the amount of non-biodegradable products that end up in landfill.
If you’d like to find out more simply visit earthday.org.