10 surprising facts about Earth Day

Mthan 8 billion people inhabit the Earth, and soon a spring break will remind them that they need to take care of their home.

Earth Day, which takes place on April 22, dates back to 1970, when it was still established in the US Organizers hoped to raise awareness of the environmental degradation they were witnessing across the country. Since then, the recognition of the holiday has taken place expanded to more than 190 countries that have added Earth Day to their calendars.

The holiday is both a stark reminder of the work that needs to be done and a celebration of it the progress made when it comes to climate change efforts. It has also been the catalyst for action, including the creation of international climate agreements and environmental agencies.

This year’s theme is Planet vs. Plastics, which calls on government leaders, companies and ordinary people to reduce plastic production by 60% by 2040. It also calls for the complete elimination of single-use plastics by the end of this decade.

“The word environment means what surrounds you. In the case of plastics, we have become the product itself: it flows through our bloodstream, attaches to our internal organs and carries heavy metals known to cause cancer and disease,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of “The Planet vs. Plastics Campaign is a call to arms, a demand that we act now to end the scourge of plastics and protect the health of every living thing on our planet.”

Here are 10 interesting facts about Earth Day.

Earth Day was founded by a senator

Gaylord Nelson, op Democratic senator from Wisconsin, became increasingly concerned about the state of the American environment in the 1960s. After a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in January 1969, he came up with the idea to do so launching a nationwide, environmentally focused class on college campuses, drawing inspiration from the anti-war movements against the Vietnam War taking place on campuses across the country. Nelson recruited Denis Hayes, a young activist, to bring the idea to the public.

The idea for Earth Day came about after a series of environmental disasters

Hayes, one of the organizers behind the first Earth Day, previously told TIME that the idea behind the holiday came about after a number of events that drew attention to the environment, including the release of Rachel Carson’s book. Silent spring in 1962 and the Cuyahoga River fire in 1969. Hayes said that while there were a number of groups in the U.S. working on various environmental issues – reducing air pollution, raising awareness of the impact of pesticides on farm workers, and more – they had never worked together before.

“What we did was put all of those myriad pieces together, including wildlife conservation issues. It sounds strange today, but at the time the people involved in these different causes didn’t think they had anything in common,” he told TIME in 2019. Seventies.”

More than 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day

Millions of people participated in the first Earth Day celebration on April 22, 1970. The event closed down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan as people demonstrated and participated in street cleanups.

“The holiday spirit on Fifth Avenue was exemplified by members of the architectural firm Warner, Burns, Toan & Lunde, who spread a yellow and white quilt on the asphalt at 57th Street, placed a tulip in a wine bottle as a centerpiece and enjoyed a picnic in the Sun. A laughing crowd gathered around them and sang New York’s “Happy Earth Day to You.” Time reported that day.

Earth Day is April 22 due to study schedules

The date for Earth Day was largely determined by the schedules of the students Hayes and Nelson hoped to attract. April 22 fell on a weekday during the school year, between spring break and finals, when the weather was mild enough for people to be outside.

The Environmental Protection Agency was created after the first Earth Day

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates mechanisms to protect the environment, was created on December 2, 1970, in direct response to the first Earth Day. Congress created the agency after witnessing the outpouring of participation in Earth Day demonstrations across the country, the EPA says.

“Last year some said there would never be another Earth Day. They saw concern for our environment as a fad and claimed that the immediate enthusiasm of an activist generation would soon flow elsewhere,” said William D. Ruckelshaus, the EPA’s first administrator during the second Earth Day in 1971. “I believe they were wrong.”

Earth Day became global in 1990

Millions of people participated in the first Earth Day movement, which led to the passage of major environmental laws in the US later that year, including the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act.

“Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, drawing support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city dwellers and farmers, business and labor leaders,” says the history page.

But its impact extends beyond just one country. The movement went global in 1990, after a group of environmental leaders approached Hayes to organize another major campaign for the planet, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries.

In the new millennium the movement changed direction focus to campaign against global warming, and in 2020 more than 1 billion people worldwide took part in Earth Day actions.

The Paris Agreement opened for signature on Earth Day

The Paris Agreement, the most important international climate agreement in history, was opened for signature on Earth Day in 2016. The treaty has more than 190 signatories, all of whom have agreed to reduce carbon emissions and take other actions to reduce climate change.

The United Automobile Workers union played a role in making Earth Day possible

The former head of the United Automobile Workers (UAW) union was one of the largest contributors to the original Earth Day, donating $2,000 in 1970 (the equivalent of more than $15,500 today).

“The UAW was by far the largest contributor to the first Earth Day, and its support went beyond financial support. It printed and mailed all of our materials at its own expense – even those critical of cars that cause pollution,” Hayes told me Grist in 2010. “The organizers sent workers in every city where the company has a presence. And of course, Walter then supported the Clear Air Act, which the Big Four did their very best to kill or kill.”

Organizers are trying to stage the largest Earth Day cleanup event in history in 2024

For this year’s Earth Day celebration, is partnering with Malaysian organizations to organize the largest cleanup in Earth Day history. Penang Island, the country’s main island, has been hit by plastic pollution due to tourism. Organizers say at least 100,000 volunteers will clean up the country’s beaches and forests. They will also plant more than 1 million trees.

Tens of millions of trees were planted on Earth Day

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately 18 million hectares of forest are lost every year due to deforestation. To combat this, founded the Canopy Project in 2010 and says it has since planted tens of millions of trees around the world.