Earth Day is both a celebration and a protest and is one of the largest secular observations in the world. The aim is to celebrate environmental achievements as well as to call for action against environmental destruction and raise awareness of the need to protect the Earth. Most countries mark Earth Day on 22 April, but some choose to celebrate it a month earlier to line up with the Spring Equinox.
Earth Day 2022
Each year, Earth Day has a different theme and focus, depending on current global events. The theme of Earth Day 2022 is ‘Invest in Our Planet’, with the aim of encouraging businesses, civilians, and governments to work together to ensure a sustainable future. These are the main projects that you can get involved with as part of Earth Day 2022:
- The Great Global Clean Up – join a community litter pick or beach clean, or tidy up your own neighbourhood.
- Sustainable fashion – choosing more sustainable clothing over ‘fast fashion’ brands can save water, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the amount of clothes that go to landfill.
- Climate and Environmental Literacy – increasing awareness of environmental issues through school projects and activities.
- The Canopy Project – by planting trees, The Canopy Project helps to reforest the areas that need it the most.
The history of Earth Day
Earth Day began in 1970 after a Wisconsin senator, Gaylord Nelson, was inspired by the anti-war protests at local universities to stand up against increased levels of air and water pollution in the USA. The 22nd of April was chosen as it was a weekday between spring break and final exams, with the hopes of getting the highest number of students involved as possible. At this first Earth Day in 1970, around 20 million Americans joined the protests, and was the inspiration for the creation of a number of acts including:
- The National Environmental Education Act – promoting education around ecosystems, sustainability and the environment to make people more aware of the problems facing the planet.
- The Clean Air and Water Acts – these acts were among the first major US laws that established environmental standards for controlling air and water pollution.
The first Earth Day, coupled with an increased awareness of climate change in the 1950s and 1960s, also led to the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Earth Day became a global event twenty years later in 1990, inspiring millions of people from 141 countries to become more involved with recycling efforts. The 50th anniversary event in 2020 was the largest online mass event in history, involving millions of people virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earth Day campaigns
The Earth Day Network works to fight climate change through various campaigns. In one, they work with schools to promote environmental literacy – teaching children about how to protect the environment – as well as introducing environmental classroom activities and healthy school lunches. By educating the next generation on climate change issues, the Earth Day Network hopes to encourage more young people to stand up to fight against climate change.
Some of their other campaigns include: ending plastic pollution; conserving and restoring Earth’s natural habitats; and raising awareness about food’s impact on the environment.
How you can get involved
You don’t have to make drastic changes to your life to help to fight climate change, as small actions can still make a big difference. As 2022 is the 52nd Earth Day, the Earth Day Network have put together a list of 52 ways you can invest in our planet. The list includes: turning off lights when you leave a room; avoiding plastic products, and instead opting for reusable ones; and picking up litter when you’re out for a daily walk or run.
If you want to get involved and make a change, there are several petitions and actions that you can take to be greener over on the Earth Day website.