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What is Earth Day and Why Do We Celebrate it?

April 22, 1970, was a unique day in history. It marked the first annual celebration of Earth Day to raise awareness on protecting the earth and its resources. Each year, on that day, people make conscientious resolutions to protect the earth. Some turn off the lights to conserve energy, others resolve to become vegetarians to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmental activism is nothing new. Nevertheless, Earth Day is special because it honours the earth in unique ways. It is an opportunity to educate people about the environment, giving citizens around the world a chance to voice their concerns on issues affecting the planet, like global warming and climate change. 

When the first Earth Day took place in 1970, many in the United States staged rallies to raise awareness on environmental issues. The first Earth Day generated a unique sort of activism, one that many in America had experienced with racial inequality and the Vietnam war. 

The move to create a national day of awareness for the earth began in 1969 when Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin announced that he wanted to start a teach-in on college campuses to educate people on the dangers of air and water pollution. Soon afterward, Senator Nelson was joined by other congressmen to stage the first official Earth Day on April 22, 1970.

How Earth Day is Celebrated

Around the world, people celebrate Earth Day differently. Nevertheless, they are all united by a common goal; to raise awareness on the environment. In some cases, small community projects take place, while in others, larger events are staged to fight environmental issues like pollution, deforestation, and biodiversity loss. 

Here are a few examples of how other countries around the globe are honoring the earth. Each year in Canada, a tree-planting ceremony is held on the grounds of McMaster University in Ontario. Other Earth Day celebrations include educational talks, fundraisers, and sustainability awareness programs. In the Philippines, Earth Day is celebrated by a collective effort to take action to make the planet more habitable. The country organizes webinars and encourages its citizens to pledge their commitment to climate, health, and other environmental issues. 

Meanwhile, Americans mark Earth Day by staging rallies, protests, and marches across several States to protect the environment. While South Africans celebrate Earth Day by urging citizens to participate in environmental initiatives like picking up trash, using less water, and planting trees.

How Can you Celebrate Earth Day?

On Monday, April 22, 2024, Earth Day will be celebrated worldwide in several ways. For example, many businesses and governments will take action by turning off their lights for one hour to take a stand against climate change. The annual event sees some of the world’s most iconic monuments go dark, from the CN Tower in Toronto to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and even Niagara Falls; everything goes dark for an hour as a symbol of hope to an ever-pressing issue. 

The grassroots movement encourages people to celebrate their commitment to the planet. You, too, can play a role; you do not necessarily have to go to a rally, but you can support the cause by taking small steps. For example, you can plant a garden in your backyard or start a plant collection to create more green space. 

Other small initiatives include donating to a local charity, clearing out your closet, and recycling unwanted or used clothes. Taking practical steps to conserve water by turning off the tap when brushing your teeth and turning lights and electronics off after use can go a long way in saving the environment. 

Over a billion people earthwide participate in Earth Day events; the events marking Earth Day are recognized as one of the world’s largest environmental observances. 

As the world celebrates Earth Day this year, you can acknowledge the health of our planet by taking small steps to save the environment. After all, every small step you take to conserve the energy and resources of the planet can have a significant impact on the environment! 

Aaron Levinston | Staff Writer

Spring 2024

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