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What is Earth Day?

Updated on March 30, 2013

What Is Earth Day?

What is Earth Day? It's a global celebration of Earth's gifts and a day to spread awareness of people's destructive behavior on the environment.

Earth Day is actually attributed to two different days - one that marks the exact moment when the northern hemisphere celebrates spring and the southern hemisphere celebrates autumn plus a education day observed on April 22nd.

Let's find out how Earth Day started, the activities surrounding it, and what you can do this coming Earth Day.

UPDATE: Some of the proceeds from this lens are donated to the charity, Global Giving.

Image credit: Permission granted from Social Traffic

Beautiful Earth

Our First Picture, from The Apollo 8 Mission Astronauts

The Earth's magnificent blues and white swirls were photographed by Apollo 8 Mission Astronauts on their trip home to Earth. The photo captivated us. From this famous photo, we realized Earth's brilliance and frailty.

Photo credit,

The History of Earth Day

The Equinox and John McConnell

The United Nations celebrate Earth Day annually in March, which marks the equinox - the astronomical mid-point of spring and autumn. In 1979, peace activist John McConnell presented the idea of Earth Day to San Francisco's UNESCO Conference on the Environment. He wanted to make others aware of Earth's bountiful gifts with a global celebration or holiday. His project received wide support from environmental activists and city leaders.

In March 1970, Earth Day was celebrated across the world's major cities. John McConnell created a Earth Day proclamation, which asked for participants to acknowledge the crisis of the world and take action. He wanted participants to end war, poverty, and famine. He saw the world as a glorious place that needed people in community action to make a difference. Earth Day would be celebrated annually, as a way to bring people of the world into one community and to share the feeling that everyone was dependent upon each other and the world.

Famous people and leaders signed the proclamation the first year. Others have signed the proclamation in subsequent years to show their support for Earth Day. Signors include Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Anthropologist Margaret Mead, U.N. President S.O. Adebo, and U.N. Secretary-General Thant, Inventor-scientist Buckminister Fuller, Japanese environmental scientist, Y. Fukushima, American senators, and others.

McConnell asked people to take responsibility for solving Earth's problems. He also coined the term, "Earth Trustee", as someone whose life and activities benefit the earth.

John McConnell's Earth Day Proclamation:

"An international EARTH DAY each year can provide a special time to draw people together in appreciation of their mutual home, Planet Earth, and bring a global feeling of community through realization of our deepening desire for life, freedom and love, and our mutual dependence on each other."

Sublime Planet (The Celebration Series of Poetry) - Poetry to Celebrate Our Earth

Sublime Planet (The Celebration Series of Poetry)
Sublime Planet (The Celebration Series of Poetry)

Award winning poets, Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson once again partner together for this unique poetry book. A celebration for our Earth and our relationship to it throughout our lives.


April Earth Day

Senator Nelson's Environmental Teach-In

Another Earth Day observation takes place on April 22nd annually across the world.

Senator Gaylord Nelson, an American conservationist, founded the idea for April's Earth Day event. In the mid 1960's, Nelson toured U.S. cities, in hopes of spreading awareness of environmental issues in America. Conservationism was an ideal held by a minority of people; chemical dumps, air pollution, and fires did not raise society's concerns. He asked President Kennedy to rally support of governmental responsibility of environmental problems. Kennedy supported Nelson's idea and toured the U.S. The tour did not spring mainstream supporters into action.

In 1969, Nelson thought of a different idea to spread awareness of environmental issues: with an environmental teach-in. His idea stemmed from the widespread protests, or teach-ins, about the Vietnam War at college campuses. Certainly, it seemed like a similar approach could be used to spread awareness to a greater number of people.

Nelson started a campaign and contacted senators, legislators, mayors, other government officials, and college campuses' newspaper editors. A month into the campaign, the idea of EArth Day hit newspaper headlines. Earth Day would be celebrated in April of 1970; everyone was invited to participate.

As the days grew closer to spring, Nelson moved the Earth Day campaign from his senator's office to a separate office in Washington, D.C. Earth Day would need a supportive staff to answer letters, make calls, and organize the first Earth Day. Common Cause founder John Gardner offered a temporary office. Nelson selected Denis Hayes to coordinate activities, with college students fielding office duties.

Indeed, April's Earth Day was a success, with an outstanding number of participants: approximately 20 million people. Schools showed high level of participation, with the involvement of ten thousand grade and high schools and two thousand colleges.

Nelson's Goal for Earth Day

"A nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy and, finally, force this issue permanently onto the national political agenda."

Top Ten Ways to Save Money for Earth Day

Adopt a Green Lifestyle - Every Day is Earth Day

Would you like to do more for the Earth? How about adopting some lifestyle changes that will protect our environment? Here are green products and books to help you understand the importance of green living. Real changes can happen if we treat every day as Earth Day.

Senator Gaylord Nelson's Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1995

"As the founder of Earth Day, he is the grandfather of all that grew out of that event - the Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act. He also set a standard for people in public service to care about the environment and try to do something about it."

~ by President Clinton

Earth Day Posters

Remind yourself that every day is Earth Day with these great posters. Dress up your bedroom or add them to a classroom. You'll appreciate the tips on being green and admire the beauty of Earth.

Earth Day Books For Kids - Find Great Books on Earth Day

Teach kids about Earth Day with these great books. You'll be able to give them an overview of the importance of the day, as well as find Earth Day activities.

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    • tjustleft profile image

      tjustleft 5 years ago

      Thank you! Your lens goes beyond It's Earth Day and actually teaches the history and importance of the event :)

    • HaleySchaeffer LM profile image

      HaleySchaeffer LM 5 years ago

      Good work! I really enjoyed your lens and look forward to visiting your others. :)

    • profile image

      revenue4u 5 years ago

      Very nice lens. Squid liked.

    • heehaw lm profile image

      heehaw lm 5 years ago

      thanks for the info. and thanks for creating "What is Earth Day? " for us.

    • heehaw lm profile image

      heehaw lm 5 years ago

      great lens

    • GypsyPirate LM profile image

      GypsyPirate LM 5 years ago

      Great ideas for Earth Day - now I need to see how I can celebrate our earth today. Thanks also for some new information I hadn't read before - I always love that!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      It is good to devote a day to Mother Earth. We all benefit.

    • profile image

      Tamara14 5 years ago

      Learned a few facts I didn't know. Thanks :)

    • tricomanagement profile image

      tricomanagement 5 years ago

      Great Lens - time to reflect about the plant on which we live.

    • juliemd profile image

      juliemd 5 years ago

      Well, if I'd come here first, I might not have done so badly on the facts quiz! Thanks for this info.

    • profile image

      Jomazz 5 years ago

      Really great lens, quite informative.

    • profile image

      brendajoy 5 years ago

      Really nice job. Lots of interesting info.

    • bjslapidary profile image

      bjslapidary 5 years ago

      Great lens. Traveling today, saw many people along the highways picking up trash. Such a good idea. Thanks to all that participated.

    • justDawn1 profile image

      justDawn1 5 years ago

      Nicely done! Thank you for all your hard work :)

    • futurefocus57 profile image

      futurefocus57 5 years ago

      Great Job...I love Earth Day.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great info on Earth Day

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great info on Earth Day

    • mcgilwriter lm profile image

      mcgilwriter lm 5 years ago

      I love Earth Day! I'm an Earth Day baby born on April 22, but not just any Earth Day birthday, I'm the same age as Earth Day! Born on April 22, 1970! WOOT! Thanks for the history of the day, I enjoyed reading it!

    • Rebecca Korpita profile image

      Rebecca Korpita 5 years ago from Gulf Coast

      Great Lens - squid-liked!

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 5 years ago

      I like planting trees on earth day

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great lens... Kudos

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      thanks for this lens.

    • HenkWillemse profile image

      HenkWillemse 5 years ago

      Celebrating Earth Day on the 22nd, thanks for the information.

    • profile image

      Tolemac 5 years ago

      Well done, Jennifer. Lots of great information. =)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Not long now, how will you be celebrating

    • HarrietC LM profile image

      HarrietC LM 5 years ago

      really informative lens, thanks!

    • betta addict profile image

      betta addict 5 years ago

      This was the first time I read something about Earth Day...Good Job!

    • vinodkpillai lm profile image

      vinodkpillai lm 5 years ago

      Great lens! Never knew all this about Earth Day. Thanks!

    • profile image

      ajaynasa 5 years ago

      Very good information...thanx for sharing

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very informative. Thanks!

    • cjsysreform profile image

      cjsysreform 5 years ago

      What a great source of information this lens is. Go Rocketmoms! :)

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 5 years ago

      Hi I did not know very much about this subject until I read your lens. Very good indeed

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 5 years ago

      Thanks for bringing Earth Day awareness. We need to respect this planet that we live in.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Happy Earth Day. Thank you for a great lens.

    • Mamaboo LM profile image

      Mamaboo LM 5 years ago

      Thank you for the history of earth day and what it all means. Be blessed today!

    • profile image

      RecordLady 5 years ago

      What a beautiful lens you have made. Thank you for all the info.

    • myfirstjobsecon profile image

      myfirstjobsecon 5 years ago

      You have inspired me to do more with helping people and helping our planet. Thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I remember being a part of this as a Kid, now I take part of this as an Adult; I guess this proves somethings grow on you! ;)

    • profile image

      bunitasmith 5 years ago

      Thank you for a great lens.The world is in desperate need of people's care.

    • AlphaChic profile image

      AlphaChic 5 years ago

      Inspiring, and interesting facts.

    • earthybirthymum profile image

      earthybirthymum 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great Lense.



    • profile image

      Shadrosky 5 years ago

      Good job on the lens!

    • yourselfempowered profile image

      Odille Rault 5 years ago from Gloucester

      Excellent tribute to Earth Day, and a really great explanation of what it is. Blessed by a Squid Angel. :)

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      I came back to bless this lens. Wish you the best.

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Wonderful Earth Day information! :>)

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 5 years ago

      Just letting you that I have featured this page on my: Earth Day Everyday page and leaving you with a *Blessing*

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for spreading the awareness, Jennifer, on this vital topic. Each one of use can make a difference and together we can effect change. Blessings! :)

    • profile image

      DonMcCyclist1 5 years ago

      Thanks! I try to live as if every day were Earth Day.

    • profile image

      nelabai 7 years ago

      We all live in a same planet, and we all have to take measures to save it. Great lens!

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 7 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      A very timely lens for this time of the year and every day!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      Yes, I agree... every day should be treated like Earth Day. Well done (and Blessed).

    • greenerme profile image

      greenerme 8 years ago

      Welcome to a Million Ways to Go Green!

    • JenniferAkers LM profile image

      JenniferAkers LM 8 years ago

      [in reply to SemperFidelis] Thank you, Colleen. Your blessing is greatly appreciated!!! After researching for Earth Day, I've discovered we really should treat every day like Earth Day.

    • teamlane profile image

      teamlane 8 years ago

      Perhaps late, but I appreciate the lens and the effort put into it. SquidAngel Blessing. ~ Colleen ;)

    • JenniferAkers LM profile image

      JenniferAkers LM 8 years ago

      Thanks, Ojolie - neat Earth Day card!

      I'm thrilled to be blessed by a squid angel!! Thanks, Spirituality!!

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

    • ojolie profile image

      ojolie 8 years ago

      Here is an artistic animated ecard for Earth Day, "Blue Planet". It is free to send.

    • JenniferAkers LM profile image

      JenniferAkers LM 8 years ago

      Thanks, Madonna! It is a great group! I'm thrilled you're a part of my team.

      Glad to have you on board, DeeJay - you're smart and talented, an asset to our campaign. I'm honored to read your comments.

      Tradition and technology... Absolutely, Anne. It's so cool to be a part of something with a grassroots effort that can really make a difference in our Earth. Just like the original Earth Day events, Earth Day Birthday will be huge!

      Thanks for the support, Arthur!

      Peter, you're awesome! Thanks for the kudos. By combining our talents, we're all making a difference. I'm excited to work with you in Social Traffic. We've got a passionate group of people, and we're going to ROCK Earth Day Birthday!

    • profile image

      Sydneygroove_Lifestyle-Events 8 years ago

      OMG... !! Another great "Earth Day" lens... you rock girl! Love all the great content you have been sharing with us. It’s shaping up to be an Earth Day we will all remember for a long time. Thanks for your continued contributions towards global awareness of the struggle ahead. Let’s keep it going and help to instigate some change.

      Together we WILL make a difference!

      Peter Holmes....pfh.edbd

      Saving the Earth one click at a time..!

    • profile image

      Arthurh 8 years ago

      Great lens Jennifer! Keep up the good work

    • profile image

      annewalshcoach 8 years ago

      Hi's great to know that as members of Social Traffic and the Earth Day campaign we are connecting back to a movement that started over 50 years ago...but now we are using the most up to date technology. Tradition and technology...a potent combination. Thanks again. Anne agw.edbd

    • profile image

      DeeJay 8 years ago

      I just read your bio snippet: no wonder you're so prolific and solidly based in the pages you produce. Training ALWAYS shows. But more than than you're chosen to lend your talents so one of the most important things imaginable: the health and care of our own Mother Earth. I'm with ya! More power to Social Traffic and it's Earthday Birthday Campaign.

      Peace and Love,

      DeeJay (djh:edbd)

    • profile image

      madonnadillon 8 years ago

      love this ... and robbing your words i think your awesometastic great group of people coming your lens girlfriend...

    • JenniferAkers LM profile image

      JenniferAkers LM 8 years ago

      [in reply to neilashworth] Thanks for visiting and commenting, Neil! I'm happy to meet so many people who care about our Earth.

    • profile image

      neilashworth 8 years ago

      Love this lens Jennifer!

    • JenniferAkers LM profile image

      JenniferAkers LM 8 years ago

      [in reply to IArtist] You're right, and good reminder that Earth Day needs to observed every day. Thanks for visiting my lens!

    • IArtist LM profile image

      IArtist LM 8 years ago

      Nice Lens and we must not forget Earth Day should be everyday!


      Another Peace Venture

    • JenniferAkers LM profile image

      JenniferAkers LM 8 years ago

      [in reply to harryshade] ROFL, Harry! You are awesometastic, my friend! Glad you enjoyed the lens!

    • profile image

      MargieDee 8 years ago

      Hi Jennifer..

      Excellent Lens, really enjoyed the video of the 10 ways to save..

      Thank you for sharing..

      Sending Smiles:)

      Margie D


    • profile image

      harryshade 8 years ago

      Hey Jennifer,

      Once again great stuff. You certainly are creative and bring forth wonderful information that is worth knowing.

      Keep up the awesometastic work!


    • profile image

      jkoritz 8 years ago

      Great info, now I need to work on my top 10 list.....

    • JenniferAkers LM profile image

      JenniferAkers LM 8 years ago

      [in reply to neilashworth] Thanks, Neil. I'm learning so much about Earth Day, and I'm happy to share. :-)

    • profile image

      neilashworth 8 years ago

      Love this lens Jennifer!