On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was celebrated by 20 million people across America. This once small, grassroots movement has evolved today into a worldwide campaign to protect the environment.
The mounting environmental crisis prompted the then US Senator from Wisconsin to propose the first ever Earth Day. Senator Nelson called it a protest movement, intended to “shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda.” The Senator succeeded in passing a Congressional resolution declaring April 22 a national celebration of the earth a day he referred to as a “national environmental teach-in”. This groundbreaking effort earned Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award.
Despite its Congressional backing, Earth Day was a decidedly grassroots movement. Under the leadership of organizer Denis Hayes, April 22, 1970 saw millions of Americans calling for a healthy and sustainable environment in coast-to-coast rallies and thousands of campus protests. Once isolated non-profit organizations also gained national recognition and began working together toward their common agenda.
For two decades, Earth Day continued as a national focal point for the promotion of environmental awareness in the United States. Then in 1990, Hayes took his operations global. More than 200 million people in 141 countries were mobilized in Hayes campaign to put the spotlight on international environmental issues. Among its victories, the campaign paved the road to the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
Another decade passed and people around the world continued to celebrate Earth Day. As the millennium drew nearer, Earth Day activists turned to their retired leader Denis Hayes to spearhead another international campaign this one focused on global warming and clean energy alternatives. On April 22, 2000, the 30th anniversary of the first Earth Day, more than 5,000 groups from a record-breaking 184 countries celebrated Earth Day. National events were held around the globe: From Gabon, Africa, where a traveling drum chain brought the message from village to village, to Washington, D.C.,
Here are 10 tips that can help the environment:
1. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth or soap up your dinner dishes.
2. Get a library card and start using it rather than your credit card.
3. Opt out of junk mailings and catalogs. Sure you can recycle them, but isn’t it better not to have to?
4. Replace your burned out light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones.
5. Invest in some nice cloth napkins and ditch the disposables.
6. Use old washcloths rather than paper towels. Even if you have to buy two new packs of washcloths, you will significantly reduce your paper consumption in just a few weeks.
7. Make your own household cleaners rather than buying store-bought, petroleum-based scrubs and sprays.
8. Buy a reusable water bottle so you can ditch the bottled water habit for good.
9. Start purchasing recycled goods. From purses made from tires, to tiles made from glass, the options are endless. Keeping items from going into our landfills will make a huge impact on the environment.
10. Paper or plastic? Neither! Bring cloth bags when you shop. Most large chain stores now discount your bill by a nickel or more per bag.