Yesterday was Earth Day. But did you know it was originally planned to be celebrated on March 21st – the first day of spring?
Peace activist John McConnell first proposed a day to honor the earth at a United Nations conference in 1969 – and selected March 21, 1970 to be that date. The idea was then picked up on by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson who selected April 22, 1970 for a environmental “teach-in” on thousands of college campuses to raise public awareness of environmental issues. The grassroots response was overwhelming – remember, in 1969 there was a huge oil spill off the coast of California, the Cuyahoga River burned and smog was a fact of life around factories of the time. The envisioned “teach-in” snowballed into not only educational activities, but rallies with huge attendance figures in major cities across the U.S.
These activities not only helped raise the profile of environmental issues but also spawned the creation of the EPA, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and hundreds of environmental organizations.
Earth Day is now celebrated in over 140 countries around the world. I celebrated by cleaning up my yard – how did you celebrate? Tell me in the comments!