World Earth Day: Why We Must Take Care of Our Planet and How to Go About It?
World Earth Day is an international event celebrated on the 22nd of April every year. It has become a global movement that aims to raise awareness about the environment and encourage people to safeguard it. The first Earth Day celebration was observed on April 22nd, 1970. An estimated 20 million people participated in the protests held across the United States. Today, approximately one billion people continue to unite to promote awareness for the health of our planet, according to earthday.org.
In accordance with this year’s theme – ‘Invest in Our Planet,’ let us identify how we can make an impact, individually and collectively, in the right direction.
What is Earth Day and Why is it Celebrated?
Earth Day means honoring the planet’s clean natural resources and educating citizens about actions that facilitate a healthy planet. With the same intent, this day started as a commitment to environment conservation five decades ago. It has now become the largest secular observance for clean habitats for people and wildlife alike, across the world.
Earth Day is a testimony that change truly begins with us and even one person is sufficient to make an impact in a positive way. Celebrating this day serves as a constant reminder of how fragile our planet is. This has made people conscious of the environment and the urgent need to protect it.
When and Where Was the First Earth Day Observed?
The history of Earth Day dates back to April 22nd, 1970. This was after Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson witnessed the aftermath of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. He made an appeal to all Americans to speak out for the environment. Thousands of institutes and universities held protests in their individual capacity for safeguarding the planet. To help him in this mission, Senator Nelson recruited young activist Denis Hayes and Congressman Pete McCloskey. The duo recognized the potential of this movement and formed a team to promote events across the continent.
On April 22nd, 1970, approximately 20 million Americans united to hold rallies and participate in activities promoting a safe living environment. People of all age groups marched against government institutions, striving for new legislation to protect the planet.
A year later, on April 22nd, 1971, President Richard Nixon marked the first anniversary of Earth Day, with an official announcement of Earth Week. Soon after, the United States Environmental Protection Agency got established, along with the launch of the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Water Act. Thus, Earth Day is no longer just a day of environmental activism. It has become an occasion for communities to unite and plant trees, clean up litter, and appreciate the beauty of nature.
What is the Theme of Earth Day 2023?
The theme for Earth Day 2023 is ‘Invest in Our Planet,’ a continuation of the 2022 theme. The theme highlights the need for people to make an effort to protect our biodiversity and save our planet. Climate change is not a far-off threat anymore. It is an ongoing calamity posing risk to our natural environments and humans. This year’s theme features five programs:
1. The Great Global Clean-up
2. Sustainable Fashion
3. Canopy Project
4. Climate and Environmental Literacy
5. Food and Environment, and the Global Earth Challenge
Which Countries Celebrate Earth Day?
The United States was the first country to celebrate Earth Day. Today, the Earth Day Network coordinates the day worldwide. More than 193 countries participate in the celebration. Here are some of the ways different countries celebrate Earth Day:
1. United States
Earth Day celebrations across the United States include rallies, teach-ins, marches, and training sessions. New York hosts pop-up stores that feature organizations supporting sustainability. Other cities host small-scale events on a local level.
2. Great Britain
London hosts an Earth Day celebration event, funded by a group of musicians and activists. The proceeds from the event go to British charities and groups tackling climate change.
Every Earth Day, Tokyo hosts a two-day event in Yoyogi Park, where approximately 100,000 visitors participate in activities. Several companies promoting sustainability join the celebrations and educate visitors.
Denmark marks Earth Day celebrations by playing drums pointed at the four corners of the world at the Christiansburg Castle Square, Copenhagen. This is followed by a March for Science that seeks to hold the officials accountable for raising awareness and promoting green initiatives.
India hosts a variety of Earth Day activities and events targeting the protection of the environment and endangered species. Various rallies, nature walks, clean-up drives, and tree-planting projects are undertaken across the city. Participants wear green to iterate their commitment to keeping the planet clean and green.
Spain holds a 24-hour Global Unity and Regeneration Gathering, encompassing workshops targeted to conserve the environment.
Major cities in Canada, including Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Amherst host parades and educational talks on climate change.
In honor of Earth Day, citizens from Sydney host nature walks across the city with environmentalists and climate change activists. Many institutes and universities conduct giveaways and storytelling sessions to educate people.
The International School of Geneva features a green sale to mark Earth Day celebrations. Trees are planted in and around school grounds from the funds raised through the sale.
The Philippines hosts 5K, 10K, 21K, and 42K marathons as part of Earth Day celebrations.
11. South Africa
South Africa promotes Earth Day celebrations by hosting Earth Expo. This event features educational forums on sustainable nutrition, entrepreneurship, technology, and fashion.
Different Ways to Celebrate Earth Day
Earth Day can be celebrated in numerous ways. It doesn’t have to be celebrated on just one day. Listed below are some of the Earth Day activities you can initiate or participate in.
1. Let go of your car for a day or more and take a walk or ride a bicycle. This will help create less noise and less air pollution, even if it is for a day. With fewer cars on the road, the environment gets a momentary human and healthy detox.
2. If you are in a position to switch all your bills into online invoices, it can help save millions of trees. This is a low-effort move and will make an impact in the long run.
3. You can volunteer on Earth Day or throughout the week for organizations helping solve the climate crisis. Such organizations also host local activities and events, where you can contribute financially or by supporting their cause.
4. Trees play a major role in our environment. Planting a few on this important day will improve the health of the environment we live in. You can make it bigger by involving community members in joining you in this initiative.
5. You can collaborate with a group involved in recycling products. Alternatively, you can also initiate a recycling plan and see what you can recycle locally. This way, you can make a small difference in a major way.
6. Visit a local event. Many local communities host Earth Day fairs and exhibitions that you and your family can enjoy and show your support for!
7. Stop using plastic! There are many sustainable alternatives that are easily available and pocket-friendly. This way, you can save a lot of plastic that would fill up dump yards and landfills.
8. There cannot be a better day than Earth Day to educate people about protecting the environment. Host a workshop in a local park or your backyard and conduct fun activities that allow people to learn by doing. You may also do a community clean-up if there isn’t one already.
9. Consider collaborating with a local school or college. They are often on the lookout for ways to get students interested in caring for the environment. You can recommend activities and volunteer for their events to bring your ideas to life.
Unearthing Earth Day Facts
Brush up on the following Earth Day facts for April 22nd, 2023:
1. Earth Day came into being on April 22nd, 2023. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day
20 million people – 10% of the US population of that time – celebrated the first Earth Day
2. Senator Nelson and Denis Hayes intentionally selected the date of Earth Day to appeal to more college students. They were known for being politically active during this period
3. Earth Day became global in 1990 to 141 countries
4. Most countries recognize this day as “International Mother Earth Day”
5. Earth Day and Equinox Day are not the same. Equinox Day celebrates the planet but it is held on March 19th every year
6. Earth Day has a dedicated theme song. Indian poet Abhay Kumar composed the song in 2013
Earth Day Activities for Students
Young students can take small actions and make a huge difference. Here are a few activities to inspire your students on Earth Day:
1. Create art projects to impart lessons about environmental topics and Earth Day
2. Get students involved in planting trees in and around the campus
3. Encourage students to put together a video or presentation urging others to take measures. The whole school can watch these videos or presentations and learn from them
4. Host an informative session on pollution control. Students can experience the consequences of pollution on a small scale
5. Conduct a clean-up drive around the school premises. Have students write down how much and what kind of trash they picked up and from where
6. Show them examples of other citizens making a difference on Earth Day
The Bottom Line / Time to Step Up Efforts
Citizens should celebrate Earth Day every day instead of dedicating one particular day to it. Small actions taken each day by every single person cumulate into big differences in the future. As individuals, we must change our consumption habits and become aware of the impact of our choices. This starts with monitoring our water usage, electricity consumption, medium of transport, and food wastage.
Perhaps, begin influencing others to take similar measures against environmental degradation and climate crisis. It is high for each one of us to collaborate and do our bit to safeguard and sustain our environment.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the benefit of celebrating Earth Day?
Earth Day is an annual celebration devoted to our planet. It brings attention to the environment and promotes sustainability.
2. What are the five things we can do to protect the Earth?
Start with conserving water, choosing sustainable products, planting trees, volunteering for clean-ups, and raising awareness among community members.
3. What are the pillars of the Earth Day theme?
The three pillars suggest acting (boldly), innovating (broadly), and implementing (equitably).
4. What can children do on Earth Day?
Children can make bird feeders using recyclable materials, go on a neighborhood cleanup drive, do an outdoor yoga session, start a family garden, or make earth art.
5. How many countries celebrate Earth Day?
Earth Day event celebrated by 193 countries across the globe and coordinated by the nonprofit EARTHDAY.ORG.