From: Allison Winter, ENN
Published April 22, 2014 10:29 AM

The Evolution of Earth Day

Each year April 22nd, marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the environmental movement in 1970. Not only did this movement help pass landmark legislation like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act but it has also engaged more than 1 billion people who now participate in Earth Day activities each year.

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The first Earth Day, was essentially a grassroots protest, called for by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson who announced a national day of environmental protest when Congress did not seem interested in joining his fight to clean up the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, rallies were held in major US cities where speakers tried to raise awareness about environmental issues and transform public attitudes. Since then, environmentalism has moved from a fringe issue to a mainstream concern. 

Not only has Earth Day become a global event, but it has transformed from what started as a rally to a day where we volunteer and highlight environmental issues through civic engagement. According to Earth Day Network, a nonprofit who helps mobilize the environmental movement, Earth Day activities make it "the largest secular civic event in the world."

Typical volunteer events that will occur today across the globe will focus on trash pick-ups, native plantings, recycled arts and crafts and a plethora of other 'green' events. While these activities will immediately help our local environment and help educate the public on these issues, future environmental problems, seem to be less immediate than littered streets, dirty air, or polluted water. 

In a growing world, we now face more abstract issues like global climate change, access to clean drinking water, and rising oceans - issues that we might not see first hand and can seem more difficult to understand and even more difficult to combat. While these subjects may seem impossible to prevent on a local scale, Earth Day reminds us about the importance of acting locally and thinking globally.

We hope each of our readers take time today to reflect on what Earth Day means to you and encourage everyone to get involved with your local Earth Day events. Happy Earth Day everyone!

Check out our Community Blog for a list of Earth Day events happening across the country!

Earth Day image via Shutterstock.

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