Most people in the world have heard of Earth Day and may even know that it’s in April, but do you know why the day was created…or even what it means? Earth Day is one of the most observed days in the world, narrowly falling below religious holidays like Easter and Christmas. On April 22 every year, over a billion people take action to change our behavior regarding the environment.
Beginnings of Earth Day
Earth Day started as an idea to help educate students on college campuses. In 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin was inspired by students protesting the Vietnam War. He wanted to take the energy the students put into antiwar efforts and divert it towards an issue he found important: air and water pollution. He worked with the national media, Pete McCloskey, another congressman, and Denis Hayes, an activist, to publicize his idea.
The group soon realized that they could inspire everyone, not just college students. They expanded their staff, named the day Earth Day, and the idea caught on. On April 22, 1970, millions of Americans demonstrated against air and water pollution on the first Earth Day.
Impact of Earth Day
Earth Day has had an impact since the beginning. The United States government formed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before the end of 1970, and Congress passed several environmental laws over the next several years. The Clean Air Act and Occupational Safety and Health Act were signed into the law in 1970, with laws such as the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act following over the next few years. That first Earth Day inspired Americans so much that it has been observed every year since.
In 1990, Denis Hayes – the activist who joined the cause at the beginning – organized a campaign to spread Earth Day around the globe. That year, people in 141 countries observed the day. This led to 1992’s United Nations Earth Summit, which was a global discussion about sustainable development, forest management, and climate change.
Earth Day Now
People around the world come together each year on Earth Day to renew our inspiration to recycle, cut pollution, preserve the environment, and work towards slowing climate change. Everyone, including individuals and businesses, can use this day to make plans that help everyone achieve those goals.
According to EarthDay.org, this year’s Earth Day theme is Invest In Our Planet. There is no reason that businesses can’t build sustainable plans while still building profits. While the theme of Earth Day changes every year, there are many events across the world that can help everyone learn what needs to be done – and what can be done – to protect our environment and keep it beautiful for our descendants.
Companies like Nature Bridges observe Earth Day every day through efforts like top-down construction to preserve the environment. We use construction processes that allow us to work in a smaller area than traditional construction, and heavy equipment does not contact the ground during construction. This minimizes the effect on the environment because we can clear a smaller area, reducing the impact on nearby plant and animal life. Because of our processes, Nature Bridges specializes in wetlands, beaches, and other ecologically sensitive areas. We reduce air and water pollution whenever possible and plan to do our part this Earth Day to continue inspiring others to do the same!