What is Earth Day?

Happy Earth Day resizedEarth Day is celebrated on April 22 every year. Many people consider the creation of Earth Day to be the moment when the modern environmental movement began. There will be events held, all around the world, that are intended to demonstrate support for environmental protection.

John McConnell was the founder and creator of Earth Day. In 1939, he was partnering with chemist Albert Nobell in the Nobell Research Laboratory in Los Angeles, California. They built a factory that manufactured plastic. John McConnell learned about how the manufacture of plastic polluted the Earth. This is where his concern about the environment began.

John McConnell was the son of a traveling Pentecostal evangelist. As such, John believed that humans had an obligation to take care of the earth and to share its resources equally. This concept came from his Christian beliefs. He felt that Psalm 115:16 “The earth has been given to the children of men” meant that people were supposed to take care of the planet.

In 1969, John McConnell proposed a global holiday to celebrate Earth’s life and beauty and to advance peace. The holiday was also intended to alert people of the need to preserve and renew threatened ecological balances. He made the presentation at the National UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, California. The very first Earth Day was celebrated on March 21, 1970.

One month later, United States Senator Gaylord Nelson held an environmental teach-in on April 22, 1970. This event is what resulted in having Earth Day officially celebrated on April 22 in the United States. Many communities organize and schedule several Earth Day events that take place during the week that Earth Day falls in.

The primary focus of Earth Day is to raise awareness about the things that are either helping or harming the planet. The idea is to educate people to make choices that will help the environment not just on Earth Day, but every day. People participate in Earth Day by planting a tree, making an effort to recycle, buying used clothing instead of new ones, choosing products that have less packaging (or that have recyclable packaging), and by carpooling or making use of public transportation.

More than 500 million people, in over 180 different countries, have participated in Earth Day activities since the very first Earth Day. Check with your local newspaper, or with the social media pages of local stores and organizations to find out how, when, and where the Earth Day activities will be happening where you live.

Image by LollyKnit on Flickr.

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