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What You Should Know About Earth Day

Frightened about what pollution was doing to the earth, in 1970 a group of Americans banded together and created Earth Day to demand change and celebrate positive action to clean up the environment.

By Krisha McCoy

Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH

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As the 1970s began, air pollution was rampant, people were still using leaded gasoline, pesticides were routinely sprayed in heavily populated areas, and the Cuyahoga River in Ohio was so clogged with chemicals that it spontaneously combusted. For many Americans, this was the breaking point — enough was enough. On April 22, 1970, millions of Americans got together and publicized their environmental concerns in a coast-to-coast demonstration known now as "Earth Day."

The 1970 Earth Day celebration spawned a new environmental movement and a greater awareness of how environmental pollutants can harm human health. In December of that same year, President Richard Nixon created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address the pollution problems that plagued America. Since 1970, Earth Day has become a national day of environmental recognition that takes place every April 22nd.

Earth Day: The Message Spreads

In the United States and in countries around the world, Earth Day is a time when adults and children alike honor the planet by learning what they can do to protect and clean up the environment, raise awareness about environmental health issues, and gather public support for positive change.

Earth Day: What Other Countries Do

More than 180 countries participate in Earth Day in some way, about one billion people in total. In Canada, nearly all school children get involved in a volunteer activity to protect the earth. In Moscow, people recently planned a huge clean up of Victory Park, and in Kenya, the day is celebrated by planting trees.

Earth Day: How to Celebrate

Here are some ways you can make a difference on Earth Day:

  • Hold educational classes outside and plant trees, flowers, vegetables, and other flora with schoolchildren.
  • Create a contest in which participants submit Earth Day-related posters, essays, poetry, photography, or artwork.
  • Set up an exhibit at a local library or community center to educate community members about environmentally friendly practices they can adopt in their daily lives.
  • Host a beach or park cleanup, in which community members gather to make a local recreational area a cleaner, healthier place.
  • Organize a march or rally in your community to raise awareness about Earth Day or a particular local environmental issue.
  • Launch a lobbying campaign in which concerned citizens write letters to policymakers to encourage them to support policies that help protect the environment.

Earth Day: How You Can Get Involved

If you are interested in getting involved in local Earth Day events, you can find events in your area at the Earth Day Network.

And if you want to help with the planning or execution of Earth Day events, you can volunteer your time or money to an Earth Day cause. Find out about national volunteer opportunities at the EPA's Earth Day: Events & Volunteer Opportunities Web site.

You can also help protect the earth on Earth Day, or any day, by adopting earth friendly practices, such as:

  • Only buying appliances that have earned the Energy Star label, meaning they are specially designed to conserve energy and are endorsed by the EPA.
  • Turning off appliances and lights when you are not using them.
  • Determining if your local power supplier offers "green power" options, power sources that minimize air pollution.
  • Using less heat and air conditioning.
  • Making sure that your home is properly insulated.
  • Using compact fluorescent light bulbs in your home and office.
  • Not running water unnecessarily, whether in the sink, dishwasher, or shower.
  • Taking quick showers instead of baths.
  • Washing only full loads of dishes and laundry.
  • Practicing the 4 Rs whenever possible: reduce, reuse, recycle, and re-buy.

In the decades since the first Earth Day, much of the world has responded to the call to protect the environment. And if we continue to do so, all these efforts will add up to a safer, healthier future for us all.





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Date: 10.12.2018, 02:00 / Views: 82262