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Earth Day: How it started and how to celebrate it

Learn all about why we celebrate Earth day and how to get involved.

What is Earth Day?

Earth Day is a global day of action for the planet that falls on the 22nd of April every year. The movement is celebrated all around the world and mobilises over 1 billion people to protect our environment.  

Earth Day’s History

Earth Day's beginnings in the US 

In the lead up to the first Earth Day, in 1970, there was a growing awareness of pollution and the need to protect the environment, both amongst the people and some politicians. 

As awareness grew, protests started to break out across the country, partly sparked by a major oil spill in California. 

US Senator Gaylord Nelson was one of the many people concerned by threats to the environment. With the help of Harvard graduate student Denis Hayes, he launched a national day of awareness, organising rallies, teach-ins and events across the country.

His hope was to get more student activists involved in climate action, so he chose a day that fell between Spring Break and Final Exams, and focused events around college campuses to get as many students involved as possible: April 22nd.

The movement united different groups of environmental activists across the US, and led to the passage of a number of important environmental laws, and the formation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency* by the US senate.

*This Agency now operates with core programmes that protect the air and water quality in the US, as well as monitoring radiation levels, waste cleanup, and chemical manufacture usage.

Earth Day goes global 

In 1990, Earth Day went global and has since expanded to include the whole month of April as a time to come together for climate action (Earth Month), usually focused on a common goal or theme. Some themes over the past few years have included: 

  • 2020 Earth Day theme - Climate Action

  • 2021 Earth Day theme - Restore Our Earth

  • 2022 Earth Day theme - Invest in our planet 

  • 2023 Earth Day theme - Invest in our planet (continued)

2024 Earth Day theme

This year’s Earth Day theme is Planet vs. Plastics. The aim is to raise awareness about the risks of plastics - especially single use - for the health of people and our environment. 

Raising awareness is part of a wider goal to push for a strong UN treaty on plastic pollution and reduce the production of all plastics by 2040. 

Banning fast fashion is also part of this goal - mass produced clothes that contain plastics are wreaking havoc on our planet. 

What can I do for Earth Day?

There are countless ways to observe Earth Day, but here are a few of our favourites: 

  • Sign a petition to help the environment. You have endless options here, but our favourites are petitions that ask leaders to end our dependence on oil and gas, or local petitions to protect natural areas and promote biodiversity.  

  • Join a clean-up event picking up trash - perfect for this year’s Planet vs. Plastics theme

  • Organise a clothes swap to reduce your use of fast fashion

  • Repair something in your home instead of replacing it

  • Plant a tree or fund reforestation

  • Find your community - Earth Day events are the perfect way to meet other people who care about the same things you do

  • Go outside and enjoy nature!

We wish you a happy Earth Day 2024.


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