Earth Day Guide: History & Celebrations

Earth Day History

Every year thousands of people around the world come together on April 22 to partake in the Earth Day festivities, but have you ever wondered how the holiday began? What started as a campus teach-in in favor of ecological awareness catapulted into a worldwide tradition to protect the planet we live on. Keep reading to learn more about what Earth Day is, the first Earth Day, and fun ways to celebrate.

When is Earth Day?

Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22 by more than 190 countries, including the U.S., Denmark, Egypt, India, Japan, and more. Check out the complete list of countries that are a part of Earth Day. With so many countries participating in the movement, what is Earth Day anyway, and why does it matter? 

Earth Day is one of the largest secular holidays observed worldwide and serves as a day of action to make policy changes toward a greener future and raise awareness about climate change. By informing individuals about the effects of climate change, citizens around the globe can come together for a better and more sustainable world. On this day, many people will plant flowers, such as roses, daisies, and more, and set goals to be more eco-friendly.  

History of Earth Day

To understand the history of Earth Day and why the holiday was formed, we must first travel back to 1962 when Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller, Silent Spring, was released. 

During this time, the way the environment was being treated was the last thing on people’s minds. Factories could pollute the air, lakes, rivers, and more with little government intervention, and cars that spewed harmful pollutants into the atmosphere were recognized as a symbol of wealth. However, with the global success of Silent Spring, thousands of people became aware of the horrors of harmful pesticides and pollution. The book led to a domino effect that inspired many. 

Who Started Earth Day?

Gaylord Nelson, a junior senator, is credited to be the founder of Earth Day. In 1969, he sought to persuade the nation, media, and government about the effects of air and water pollution and recruited David Hayes, a Harvard graduate student, to help him organize campus teach-ins. They chose April 22 as the day they would host these teach-ins simply because the day fell in between spring break and final exams. Little did they know how important this day would be to the world almost 50 years later.

After seeing how successful these campus teach-ins were, Hayes set forth to organize Earth Day events across the U.S. On April 22, 1970, approximately 20 million Americans flooded the streets, parks, and auditoriums to peacefully demonstrate against industrial pollution, oil spills, wildlife extinction, and more. From coast to coast, this message was heard loud and clear.

Thanks to Earth Day 1970, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established, and numerous environmental laws were passed, such as

  • National Environmental Education Act
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act
  • Clean Air Act
  • Clean Water Act
  • Endangered Species Act
  • Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act

Together, these have protected humans from disease and death and saved countless species from extinction.

Today, the fight for a more sustainable planet is not over, and Earth Day is a reminder of that. Not only is this a day to thank the planet for giving humans a home, but to also think of concrete ways to make the environment better for generations to come. 

Earth Day Trash Cleanup

How to Celebrate Earth Day

So, how do you celebrate Earth Day? While there are numerous ways to enjoy Earth Day, here are a few of our favorites:

  • Plant something: From flowers to trees and vegetables, you can plant anything you want! Not only will springtime blooms look beautiful in your yard, but they’ll also help the wildlife, such as butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees, thrive. If starting a garden is a bit intimidating, check out our blog for tips on how to make flowers last longer and proper plant care
  • Pick up trash: This Earth Day, participate in the Great Global Cleanup with a group or by yourself. No matter how much trash you clean up, every little piece makes a difference in preventing waste from ending up in the ocean and polluting the environment. You can do this while you go out for a walk around the neighborhood, as you hike a forest trail, or during a jog at the beach. 
  • Limit plastic consumption: Use this day to reevaluate your use of plastic and make the switch to more eco-friendly alternatives, such as reusable grocery bags, water bottles, and straws. 

Now, next time someone asks you, “what day is Earth Day?” you’ll know exactly what to say! However, if the holiday does slip your mind, schedule a same-day plant delivery or same-day flower delivery to have beautiful, fresh blooms sent to your door just in time to celebrate.