Earth Day is April 22nd, and to get prepared for the big day, here are a few Earth Day facts that you may not know. Founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in, the first ever Earth Day was held on April 22nd, 1970. Earth Day not only marks the beginnings of moving toward a more sustainable world, it’s a time to come together and contemplate our global environmental situation, as well as participate in community and global “green” activities. Read on to find out all about this important eco-holiday.

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Earth Day is one of the most widely celebrated environmental events across the globe. The first Earth Day was focused on protesting an oil spill off the coast of California, but today, the focus is on increasing awareness of the planet and all the issues around its health, from fracking and water pollution to rainforest depletion and animal extinctions.

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More than 20 million people and thousands of local schools and communities participated in the first Earth Day of United States that took place on 22 April 1970, and one of the results of that first celebration was the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act. It became an international event in 1971, when UN’s Secretary-General U Thant spoke about it at a Peace Bell Ceremony at the United Nations in New York City. On that first celebration, NYC’s mayor shut down Fifth Avenue for use on Earth Day, and allowed it to be celebrated in Central Park. Today, over 1 billion people celebrate Earth Day around the world.

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Earth Day is celebrated in 192 countries. This day is a time dedicated to increasing awareness about the Earth, its issues and its problems, and people in different countries take action that will benefit their region the most. For example:

  • On Earth Day 2011, the Earth Day Network planted 28 million trees in Afghanistan.
  • On Earth Day 2012, more than 100 thousand people in China rode their bikes to save fuel and reduce CO2 emissions from motor vehicles.
  • In Panama, in honor of Earth Day, they planted 100 species of endangered orchids to prevent their extinction.
  • In 2014, NASA participated in Earth Day with the agency’s #GlobalSelfie event, asking people to take a photo of themselves outside and post it to social media using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie.

We can all use Earth Day as a time to reflect on our personal impact on the environment. Simply implementing something that promotes sustainability, such as a weekly recycling regimen, can truly make a difference. Let’s use today as a starting point for great change, and make every day an Earth Day.

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