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The History of Earth Day and Ways You Can Help

April 18th, 2013 Inspirational

Earth Day is has been celebrated for over 40 years and offers many great ways to reduce our impact on the planet.

Age of protest
The first Earth Day was held in 1970, the peak of an era when millions of people were protesting across the Untied States about the war in Vietnam. After the infamous 1969 oil spill in California, Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson decided to follow in the example of the nation's many protesters, according to National Geographic. The first celebration was focused on education and, due to Nelson's efforts and the work of Republicans and Democrats alike, it achieved its goal. Over 20 million people attended educational events all over the country and three major acts were passed in the name of environmentalism: The Clean Air Act, The Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

Earth Days have happened annually in one capacity or another since the first one in 1970. The largest events are generally held on the 10-year anniversaries of the first holiday, notes Earth Day Network. In 1990, the event went worldwide, attracting more than 10 times its original number of participants in over 100 countries. The holiday focused on renewed efforts to improve recycling and other environmental factors. After the 1990 Earth Day, environmentalism took a much larger role in global business and politics, according to the History Channel.

In 2000, Earth Day became more focused on clean energy, as new developing research promised solutions for America and the world's dependency on fossil fuels. For this event, over a hundred thousand participants gathered in Washington, D.C. as well as worldwide, thanks in part to the use of the internet.

The United Nations proclaimed an international holiday in 2009. It is now organized by the Earth Day Network in dozens of countries across the globe. Many communities organize an entire week dedicated to Earth Day each year, during which citizens volunteer their time and efforts to clean their neighborhoods and highlight planet-friendly practices.

What you can do
There are many ways to participate in Earth Day festivities for the whole family. Getting in contact with local churches, libraries, and government offices will most likely yield chances to pitch in a hand to help clean up and reduce pollution. Events are often focused not only on cleaning up trash but also fostering your local ecosystem, so if you've got a green thumb, there's a need for your efforts, too. If there aren't any events in your neighborhood, you could even consider starting one yourself!

Earth Day is a great time to consider ways of making your home and consumer habits more green. Try pledging to reduce your plastic waste by using reusable water bottles and shopping bags. Simple actions like turning off the faucet or the lights when not in use can help save resources when viewed as a yearly total. Keeping appliances unplugged when not in use will not only save you energy but money as well.

This holiday is also an opportunity to teach the merits of environmentalism to youth, notes the Environmental Media Association. Kids in schools nationwide often participate in classroom activities and you can even encourage these activities at home. Reducing, reusing and recycling are still great lessons to instill in the next generation, not only on Earth Day but year-round as well.

If you want to make a big step for environmentalism on Earth Day, you might even consider changing your home entirely. Simple devices like motion sensors on your lights can save energy as soon as they're installed. You may even consider implementing solar panels to help cut down on your electricity use or investing in a hybrid car.