The first celebration of Earth Day occurred on April 22nd 1970. Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, at the time a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, was inspired to start an environmental awareness movement after witnessing the destruction of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill in California. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media and promptly recruited a national staff of 85 people to help assist with the "teach-in".
On April 22nd, 1970 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in huge rallies across the entire county. Many students at various universities and colleges participated in the demonstration as well as many environmental groups that had been operating independently before Earth Day. These groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories, pesticides, the extinction of wildlife and other concerns realized that they had common goals and could accomplish much by working together.
The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. For more information on Earth Day, including how you can take action and Earth Day events around the country, check out their website.
To further explore the Earth Day holiday, History.com provides videos about global warming and speeches from environmental advocate Al Gore.
A great way to celebrate Earth Day is by creating an awesome craft from recycled materials or adventuring outside to enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors (and you will also be using less electricity!) . You can learn some more facts about Earth Day and also get some fun craft ideas at DLTK-Kids.com. Tinkerlab has a fun list of 50 Earth Day activities for kids. Hands on as We Grow has compiled a list of 34 recycled and upcycled crafts and activities for children. Disney's Spoonful website has an entire page devoted to supplying you with awesome crafts, activities and recipes to celebrate Earth Day. One of my favorites is their suggested 8 ways that kids can help save the planet! Try making a compost bin using a plastic storage bin as pictured below.
|Image from http://spoonful.com/crafts/decorate-a-compost-bin.|
If you are in need of some Earth Day inspiration, read some of the amazing environmental quotes put together by Parade for Earth Day. I found the lovely quote from Jane Goodall on their list and thought it truly encapsulated the sort of message that we should be sharing on Earth Day.
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” —Jane Goodall
If you want to become more active with your communities environmental efforts year-round, you can help in a multitude of ways. Some examples could be planting a community garden, making sure local businesses and home have recycling bins and volunteering your time to assist local environmental protection groups. You can learn more about environmental campaigns that you can help with through the Earth Day Network, such as pledging to eat less meat. In Northeastern Ohio the Earth Day Coalition provides workshops, volunteer opportunities and even a student leadership program on environmental education for high school students. Check out their page to see how you can be involved!