Earth Day was founded in 1970 as a day of education about environmental issues and is now a globally celebrated holiday. What is the history of this globally celebrated day?
It began in the early 1960s when Americans were becoming aware of the effects of pollution on the environment. Later in the decade, a 1969 fire on Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River shed light on the problem of chemical waste disposal. Until that time, protecting the planet’s natural resources was not part of the national political agenda, and the number of activists devoted to large-scale issues such as industrial pollution was minimal. Factories pumped pollutants into the air, lakes, and rivers with few legal consequences. Big, gas-guzzling cars were considered a sign of prosperity and only a small portion of the American population were familiar with–let alone practiced–recycling. Finally, Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962, Senator Gaylord Nelson was determined to convince the federal government that the planet was at risk.
In 1969, Nelson, considered one of the leaders of the modern environmental movement, developed the idea for Earth Day after being inspired by the anti-Vietnam War “teach-ins” that were taking place on college campuses around the United States. Nelson announced the Earth Day concept at a conference in Seattle in the fall of 1969 and invited the entire nation to get involved. The response from the public was electric and the concept took off like wildfire.
Telegrams, letters and telephone inquiries poured in from all across the country. The American people finally had a forum to express their concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes and air—and they did so with spectacular exuberance.
Since 1970, Earth Day celebrations have grown. In 1990, Earth Day went global, with 200 million people in over 140 nations participating, according to the Earth Day Network (EDN), a nonprofit organization that coordinates Earth Day activities. In 2000, Earth Day focused on clean energy and involved hundreds of millions of people in 184 countries and 5,000 environmental groups. Activities ranged from a traveling, talking drum chain in Gabon, Africa, to a gathering of hundreds of thousands of people at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Today, the Earth Day Network (EDN) collaborates with more than 17,000 partners and organizations in 174 countries. According to EDN, more than 1 billion people are involved in Earth Day activities, making it “the largest secular civic event in the world.” So now that we know the history and how far and wide the celebrations of Earth Day span, how does one celebrate earth day in Fort Collins CO?
Earth Day is best celebrated by doing something beneficial to the environment. The goal of the day is to give the environment a break from waste and pollution. If you work on Saturday, is your work commute close enough to leave the car in the garage and walk or bike to work? Maybe take the Max or public transportation that is close to your house. Why not take the family on a hike at Horsetooth Rock? Take the kids on a walk to the park instead of letting them play on their tablets. While on your walk, maybe take a trash bag and pick up trash along the way? Try something different for Earth Day that benefits your environment as well. Most importantly, make a fun memory with the ones you love, you might just start a new tradition for Earth Day next year! Happy April 22nd friends!
A FEW EVENTS IN FORT COLLINS:
- Sustainable Living Association Earth Day Celebration
- Fort Collins Nursery earth Day Tree Sale & Giveaway
- Arbor Day 5K
- River Appreciation Day (April 23rd)