Earth Day

A Day to Celebrate Earth

Earth Day is the largest, most widely celebrated international environmental event. Earth Day helps celebrate Earth’s unique place in the universe. It is the only planet in our solar system teeming with incredible biodiversity. Learning about and protecting this biodiversity is what Earth Day is all about. People all over the world celebrate our efforts to protect plants and animals and to clean up the world we live in. Most people celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd each year. In some countries, it is celebrated a month earlier on the vernal equinox.

Countries all over the world celebrate Earth Day in different ways. China created a stamp to commemorate Earth Day and the planet.

Countries all over the world celebrate Earth Day in different ways. China created a stamp to commemorate Earth Day and the planet.

©XA Business

The First Earth Day

Senator Gaylord Nelson of the United States founded Earth Day. Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970 in the United States. Across the United States, 20 million people and thousands of local schools and communities participated in the first Earth Day. The huge turnout for the first Earth Day made it the largest organized celebration in the history of the United States. Earth Day’s success helped influence the government of the United States to create stronger laws to protect the environment.

Demonstrations are one way people voice their opinions about environmental practices and laws they disagree with.

Demonstrations are one way people voice their opinions about environmental practices and laws they disagree with. These people are protesting old-growth logging in an ancient forest in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

©G.Ellis/GLOBIO.org

Earth Day Goes International

On March 21, 1971, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General U Thant made Earth Day an international celebration. He spoke about it at a Peace Bell Ceremony at the United Nations in New York City. The United Nations Earth Day ceremony continues each year on the day of the vernal equinox (March 20th or 21st), with the ringing of the UN Peace Bell at the very moment of the equinox.

A Turnout of 200 Million!

In 1990, the first official International Earth Day was celebrated. About 200 million people from 141 nations took part in a celebration of environmental conservation. In many countries, the global event reminded presidents and other national leaders how important protecting Earth is to people.

A Summit to Save the Planet

Many of these leaders later took part in the first United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. At the summit, global problems such as climate change and the worldwide loss of indigenous cultures and wild species were discussed.

Why Celebrate Earth Day?

Earth Day reminds us we all share the same planet. Sharing Earth means taking responsibility for what we use and how we use it. It is a day to think of the environmental challenges we face and how to solve them. Protecting Earth is every person’s and every country’s responsibility.

Parties All Around the Globe

People traditionally celebrate Earth Day with the ringing of bells, often bells of peace. The tradition of bell ringing is practiced all over the world on Earth Day. Representatives from Palestine, Austria, and Russia have all rung a Peace Bell in a ceremony celebrating the protection of the environment and of Earth’s many species.

Children in India put on this “Save the Earth” skit to celebrate the planet and to raise environmental awareness.

Children in India put on this “Save the Earth” skit to celebrate the planet and to raise environmental awareness.

©Sunny Brook Playhome

A Rally in India

In India, one Earth Day was celebrated by approximately 1,200 kids. They held a rally during which they carried signs with slogans and messages about preserving all of nature. The children also performed skits about the environment. The India Habitat Center held painting and quiz competitions. At other events, kids presented a “Children’s Clean Air Manifesto” to the president’s wife. Then they held a Children’s Bicycle Rally to promote nonpolluting forms of transportation.

In Kenya, Earth Day is celebrated along with the country’s National Tree Planting Day.

In Kenya, Earth Day is celebrated along with the country’s National Tree Planting Day. Citizens and students plant trees in order to preserve forests and keep the environment clean.

©G.Ellis/GLOBIO.org

More Trees for Kenya

In Kenya, distinguished guests and schoolchildren planted 1,000 trees in Nairobi’s endangered Karura forest. The plantings were in honor of Earth Day and Kenya’s National Tree Planting Day on April 21.

Field trips and outdoor projects are a great way to learn more about Earth, your environment, and all the interesting things that live there.

Field trips and outdoor projects are a great way to learn more about Earth, your environment, and all the interesting things that live there.

©K.Feng/GLOBIO.org

Theme Parties in China

China celebrates Earth Day each year with a theme. One year the theme was Protection of Geographic Relics and Scientific Development. This theme highlighted the importance of preserving cultural history and artifacts. Another year the theme focused on sustainable use of natural resources in China and all over the world.

Thorny devil lizards are one of the many unusual Australian wildlife species that depend on the mallee wilderness of Yellabinna to survive.

Thorny devil lizards are one of the many unusual Australian wildlife species that depend on the mallee wilderness of Yellabinna to survive.

©G.Ellis/GLOBIO.org

Earth Day Down Under

In Australia, a group dressed in animal costumes held a parade in which they carried flags and banners in support of protecting Yellabinna (yell-uh-BEE-nah), the world’s largest stretch of mallee wilderness. Another Earth Day celebration drew attention to air pollution by organizing a large “car-less” day. Many central Sydney streets were blocked off to cars. These car-free streets became the site of an Earth Day festival with music, theater, and educational exhibits.

Join the Earth Day Party

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan rings the peace bell at a Peace Bell Ringing Ceremony.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan rings the peace bell at a Peace Bell Ringing Ceremony.

©E.Debebe/UN.org

Come join the party with millions of other kids and celebrate your Earth! Earth Day celebrations provide a chance to remember what an amazing planet we live on.

How have you celebrated Earth Day in the past? If you or your class has a great story, tell GLOBIO so that your story can be shared with kids around the world on Earth Day Everyday.

Making Earth-friendly Choices

There are many different things each of us can do to help protect species, keep Earth clean, and fix damage that has been done. For example, using fewer natural resources will help make sure there are enough resources to go around. It will also help make sure that future generations won’t run out of the things we all need, like clean water, air, and soil.

A Hole in Our Safety Zone

This is a mapping spectrometer image of the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica

Scientists are worried about air pollution and its effects on the ozone layer. They use special technology and tools to carefully watch the hole that has developed over Antarctica. This is a mapping spectrometer image of the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica.

©NASA

When we don’t use resources in a responsible way, we may create pollution that can damage water, soil, air, and other parts of the environment. For instance, certain types of air pollution have already created a hole in our planet’s ozone layer. The ozone layer is part of the atmosphere. It is made up of a special gas called ozone. The ozone layer helps keep us safe from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

Most scientists believe that as more air pollution is made, the ozone layer will become thinner and more holes will develop. This will allow even more ultraviolet rays to reach Earth. A thinner ozone layer may result in harm to people, animals, and plants.

At the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya in Africa, orphaned baby rhinoceroses and elephants are raised by keepers.

Conservation of endangered species is an important part of Earth Day and taking care of the planet every day. At the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya in Africa, orphaned baby rhinoceroses and elephants are raised by keepers. Eventually, they are released back into their wild habitat.

©G.Ellis/GLOBIO.org

Protecting Endangered Species

Along with pollution, things like habitat destruction and poaching are causing some species to become endangered. Finding ways to protect and save endangered species is a primary goal of conservation groups. Earth Day celebrations are a great opportunity for these groups to teach us all about the planet and how every person can make a difference.

Think Globally, Act Locally

More cities around the world are making streets, roads, and special paths just for bicycles and pedestrians.

More cities around the world are making streets, roads, and special paths just for bicycles and pedestrians. On special days each week, month, or year, many cities close some of their roads to cars and other vehicles in order to promote walking and bicycle riding.

©G.George

Earth Day isn’t the only day when the world can and should celebrate the planet we all share. In fact, at GLOBIO we believe Earth Day Everyday should be theway to live.

Here are a few ways you can help Earth every day.

  • Walk or ride a bicycle to school, the park, or the store. Encourage your parents to walk or ride to work, too. This is a great way to help reduce the pollution created by cars, trucks, buses, trains, and airplanes.
  • Plant trees. Trees help keep the air clean.
  • Do not litter. Pick up litter on the sidewalk, street, beach, or riverbank. This will help keep the environment free of contaminants.
  • Create a compost pile for food scraps and plant waste from the garden. This is a good way to cut down on the amount of trash that goes into a landfill. As a bonus, compost helps create rich soil for gardening.
  • Recycle! Recycling is an important part of keeping Earth clean. It is very easy to do. By giving old things a new life we put less pressure on important resources all of us will need in the future to survive.

Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Understanding how long something takes to decompose in a garbage dump or landfill can help motivate all of us to reuse and recycle everything we can. The best thing any of us can do for the environment is to rethink the way we use things and to use less. The fewer resources and products we use, the less stuff there is to throw away and recycle. Can you guess how long it takes the things we use everyday to turn into soil in a landfill? Click below to find the answers.

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Most things that are thrown away in an average bag of trash can be recycled. Open this picture and move your mouse around the sorted piles of trash to learn what can be recycled instead of thrown away.