Earth Day - April 22nd
The Earth Day movement that began in 1969, lead by Senator Gaylord Nelson, was intended to increase awareness of the growing environmental problems the world was facing and to force the issue into the main stream. What began as a small grassroots movement later grew to a world wide celebration of the Earth, and a peaceful protest to the world-wide pollution and destruction of the planet's land, water, and air.
Nelson, a long time supporter of environmental reform, earned the reputation as "the Conservation Governor". As the Governor of Wisconsin, Nelson worked to protect natural resources, clean up waterways and create "green" jobs. Once elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962, he spent 7 years trying to draw the attention of lawmakers to the environmental issues we were facing, but his efforts proved unsuccessful. However, realizing that there was a growing concern amongst the American people, he turned his attention from Washington's lawmakers to everyday Americans.
In 1969, Senator Nelson proposed a national "teach-in" regarding the most urgent environmental issues of the day, greatly inspired by the campus activism growing with the anti-war movement. Insisting that the Earth Day activities be planned by individuals, groups and community organizations, not by government based organizations, Nelson employed a team of students to organize activities. This group became known as Environmental Teach-In, Inc., and the number of supporters grew beyond anything he ever imagined. The Earth Day movement continued to gain momentum, and the first Earth Day celebration occurred on April 22, 1970. An estimated 20 million people came together that day, including many elementary and high school students. In interviews, Nelson would be quick to deflect any personal attention for what the day had become, stating "Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level," reflected Nelson, "It organized itself."
Today, it is reported that over 500 million people in 175 countries participate in Earth Day events each year. The ways individuals and communities participate in the Earth Day celebrations are as diverse as the individuals and communities themselves. From school children in Mozambique participating in country-wide tree plantings, city and village clean-ups in India, to the "greening" of 40 schools around the globe by the Earth Day Network, people are getting involved. Smaller scale events can be as simple as supporting a local farmers market to making a personal pledge, such as no longer using plastic bags, or switching to environmentally friendly products.
There are so many ways we can all take part and help lessen our impact on the environment. More and more, companies are "going green" in an effort to help save the environment such as: installing alternative energy sources like solar panels, instituting a recycling program or even offering incentives to employees to carpool, bike to work or even stay home and telecommute.
Everyone, everywhere can participate in Earth Day just by taking time to reflect how each of us can do our part to protect our Earth. After all, we only get one!
Click here to read some great quotes such as:
"There is hope if people will begin to awaken that spiritual part of themselves, that heartfelt knowledge that we are caretakers of this planet."
~Brooke Medicine Eagle
"Until a man duplicates a blade of grass, Nature can laugh at his so-called scientific knowledge. Remedies from chemicals will never stand in favorable comparison with the products of Nature, the living cell of a plant, the final result of the rays of the sun, the mother of all life. "
~Thomas Alva Edison
"Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money."
~Cree Indian Proverb