Earth Day is this Sunday and now more than ever we need to be conscious of how we affect our environment. Myron Willson, deputy chief sustainability officer at the University of Utah, calculated that if the entire world lived like upper-class Utahns, we’d need the resources of almost eight Earths to sustain us. With that sobering fact, be mindful of the ways you can end plastic pollution, CO2 emissions and overall pollution. So, to get in the spirit of sustainability here are 12 facts about Earth Day!
1. Earth Day is the largest secular observance in the world and is celebrated by more than a billion people each year.
2. Earth Day was established in 1970 by US Senator Gaylord Nelson to commemorate the first environmental teach-in held on the 22nd of April.
3. Earth Day started at the height of the 1970s counterculture movement in the US and is inspired by the anti-war movement and other public protests of the day.
4. On the first Earth Day, 20 million Americans organized coast-to-coast rallies raising awareness for the degradation of our environment and ecosystem.
5. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the EPA and legislation like the Clean Air and Water Act.
6. Earth Day is celebrated by 192 countries, including Gabon, where citizens organized a huge drum chain from village to village to celebrate Earth Day 2000.
7. In 2009, the UN renamed Earth Day to International Mother Earth Day.
8. In 2012, China celebrated Earth Day by choosing bikes over trains. Over 100,000 people rode bikes to reduce CO2 emissions!
9. Afghanistan celebrated Earth Day in 2012 by planting 28 million trees in conjunction with the Earth Day Network.
10. On Earth Day 2009, NASA planted “moon seeds” on the grounds of Washington, D.C. These seeds had been orbiting the moon for years in a command module for researching if exposure to microgravity would impact their growth on Earth. These moon trees grow alongside their Earthbred brothers and sisters.
11. In 2015 a group called Globibo worked with Singapore officials to organize a memorable Earth Day where volunteers dressed up in panda suits and challenged citizens to tug-of-wars and soccer matches.
12. Next year is Earth Day’s 50th anniversary! In preparation for this event, every Earth Day since 2015 has had an environmental theme. This year’s theme is “Ending Plastic Pollution.”
So there you have it! Don’t forget Earth Day is this Sunday… and every other day, too!