Apr 22, 2019

What Is Earth Day And How Can You Get Involved?


Cara Hunt


It’s hard to believe that Earth Day celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2020.

That’s right, the first Earth Day happened in 1970, at a time when flared jeans and flowers in your hair was still a thing. The Jackson 5’s ‘ABC’ was about to knock The Beatles song ‘Let It Be’ off the No.1 spot in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. People were protesting the Vietnam War and flocking to see Love Story at the movies. So how come, after all these years, many of us still don’t know more about Earth Day? Time to rectify that.

What is Earth Day?

A large tree in a forest

Earth Day is an annual event which takes place each year on April 22.

The first Earth Day happened back in 1970. It was launched by activists protesting the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development. In America and around the world, smog was becoming deadly and evidence was growing that pollution led to developmental delays in children. Biodiversity was in decline as a result of the heavy use of pesticides and other pollutants.

A year previous some of them had witnessed what had been the largest oil spill in history. Near the city of Santa Barbara on the Southern Californian coast, a blow out on a Union Oil platform caused three million gallons of crude to spill onto the beaches of Santa Barbara County. 10,000 seabirds, dolphins, seals, and sea lions were killed.

Wisconsin politician and environmentalist Gaylord Nelson was inspired to found Earth Day after seeing the 800 square-mile Santa Barbara oil slick from an airplane. The first Earth Day celebrations, held on April 22, 1970, took place in 2,000 colleges and universities, roughly 10,000 primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities across the United States.

20 million Americans filled the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development. They took part in the peaceful demonstrations in favor of environmental reform.

In New York, Fifth Avenue and Central Park were made available for Earth Day. In Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park attendees included poet Allen Ginsberg and presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

Nowadays, Earth Day activities involving 1 billion people take place in almost 200 countries around the world.

Who Was Gaylord Nelson?

United States Flag in front of Senate Bulding

We have a lot to thank the late Gaylord Nelson for. The democrat founder of Earth Day served as a United States senator and governor. He strongly supported civil rights and civil liberties.

Thanks to him side-effects of drugs are now listed on pharmaceuticals. In 1981, he became counselor of the Wilderness Society and he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995 in recognition of his environmental work.

What Does Earth Day Achieve?

High rise buildings and green grass.

Earth Day brings attention to issues such as the pollution of our oceans, debris on land, climate change and the conservation of the Earth’s ecosystems, including energy conservation.

Corporations and governments use Earth Day to make pledges and announce sustainability measures.

Earth Day seeks to prevent or reduce the introduction of wastes and toxicants into the wilderness and the seas and the deforestation of the rainforests.

On Earth Day 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement, an international treaty to deal with Climate Change, was signed by the United States, China and 120 other countries.

Last year, the Earth Day Network, the organization that leads Earth Day worldwide, chose ending Plastic Pollution as its theme.

Earth Day educated millions of people about the health and other risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics, including pollution of our oceans, water, and wildlife, and about the growing body of evidence that plastic waste is creating serious global problems.

Many of us are now aware of the poisoning and injuring marine life due and that the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food can damage our health and threaten our planet’s survival.

The aim of Earth Day remains to demonstrate support for environmental protection.

What Is The Theme of Earth Day 2019?

Trtle Swimming in the Ocean

The Earth Day Network has designated 2019 a crucial year in which to protect species from extinction. It is feared that governments are rolling back laws and regulations, policies and international agreements aimed at protecting wildlife.

Protecting the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act are top priorities.

Today’s world is facing the greatest rate of extinction since we lost the dinosaurs more than 60 million years ago. But unlike the fate of the dinosaurs, the rapid extinction of species in our world today is the result of human activity.

Studies estimate that we are now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate. Insect populations have decreased by more than 45% worldwide; 40% of the world’s bird species are in decline; beekeepers report annual hive losses of 30% or higher.

It is what author Katherine Kolbert, staff writer at the New Yorker, writes about in her book, The Sixth Extinction.

Species are disappearing before we get the learn about them or the benefits they bring to our eco-systems and our planet. The loss is so great that the welfare and future of the human species are threatened.

“The good news is that the rate of extinctions can still be slowed, and many of our declining, threatened, and endangered species can still recover if we work together now to build a united global movement of consumers, voters, educators, faith leaders, and scientists to demand immediate action,” says Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network.

How Can We Get Involved?

Woman holding plant in earth

Among the things we can do to participate in Earth Day is meet with our elected officials, plant trees, clean up your towns and roads.

We can also can help by making more sustainable choices. This could be reducing our carbon footprint, conserve energy and resources, or by collaborating on environmental projects in our community.

Most of all, we can be mindful of the environment.

Follow Trtl’s Earth Week on Instagram 22-29th April

Join us on Instagram and follow our daily stories to learn tips on how to travel more eco-friendly. By also taking part in Trtl’s Earth Week on Instagram you can also be entered to a draw where we will adopt a family of baby turtles from Save-a-turtle.org and you will be named as the parent of this wonderful family of sea turtles!

All you have to do is share your top tips on our Instagram post here! Save-A-Turtle.org of the Florida Keys is a volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of rare and endangered marine turtles and to the enhancement of their habitats in the Florida Keys.