Every year on April 22nd, an estimated 1 billion people around the globe join together to celebrate Earth Day. People of all nationalities, ethnicities, and backgrounds stand united to raise awareness about ecology and the environment. Together, they try to let the world know that the environmental movement is not limited to scientists. It is made up of all people, rich and poor, young and old, people like me and you. This global event reminds us how important protecting the Earth is and gives us a chance to do some good for our planet. Here are some events you can participate in this year!
How did it start?
It is widely debated how exactly Earth Day started, but Senator Gaylord Nelson is considered to be an official founder of the event as we know it today. Originally this one-day event was supposed to provoke the U.S. government to take action in environmental concerns.
It should also be noted that there was a very first Earth Day, one that preceded the April 22, 1970 Earth Day, and was organized by newspaper publisher and activist John McConnell on March 21, 1970. This corresponded with the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, as well as the first day of autumn in the southern hemisphere.
All It Takes Is One Environmentally Conscious Senator
Senator Nelson became a strong advocate of the belief that humankind should take better care of our planet. After all, we only have one Earth. In the early 1970's the state of the environment was terrible and pollution was getting worse every day. Despite the anger of many people, the government did not do much to stop it. This situation frustrated the eco-conscious Senator of Wisconsin so much that he decided to present his idea of Earth Day to some very influential people, ranging from senators, governors, and mayors to college newspaper editors. Nelson took inspiration from widespread college and university Vietnam protests, or teach-ins. He believed that a nationwide conservationist teach-in would get more Americans involved in environmental issues, which were only rarely addressed in politics or by the media. It was in November 1969 when he formally announced that an environmental teach-in called Earth Day would be held in the spring of the following year.
Gaylord Nelson by Wikimedia Commons
To everyone’s surprise, the event turned to be an enormous success and became headline news all across America. There is a rumour that April 22 was chosen for the first Earth Day in part because it fell on a Wednesday, when there was the biggest possibility to attract a large turnout for the event. What is for sure, an estimated 20 million people nationwide attended festivities all around the country. The United States had never witnessed such a large organized celebration before.
Since that day, environmentalism has moved from a fringe issue to a mainstream concern. Its success has even helped influence creation of stronger laws to protect the environment in the U.S. The celebration soon spread throughout the world and created a life for itself with a billion people in about 180 nations celebrating every year.
What to Do on Earth Day in Toronto
The annual celebrations of Earth Day in Toronto kick off on April 20th. The list of events happening across the city is long but I would like to draw your attention to the events organized by the ROM, Toronto Zoo, and the City of Toronto itself. Do not limit yourself to just these events, try to take adavantage of as many as you can! Come join the party with millions of other people, celebrate your Earth, and remember what an amazing planet we live on! Remember, this is not about a single day; it is about living green every day.
To celebrate Earth Day, Canada’s EcoMentors program, Ontario Nature, and the Royal Ontario Museum’s Shad Gallery of Biodiversity have joined their forces to present a free environmental workshop series for youth ages 15 to 24 on each Saturday throughout the month of April. Youth participants can attend one or all three hands-on workshops and learn more about the protection and conservation of biodiversity in our province. Registration is required.
This year, you can show your dedication to environmental issues by engaging in the clean-up of your city. From April 20th to 21st, 2012, all citizens of Toronto are invited to clean the city.
- Corporate and School Clean-up Day – Friday, April 20th
- KIDS CAN! Clean Toronto Together. KIDS CAN! Make a difference! – Friday, April 20th
- Mayor Ford’s Community Clean-up Day – Saturday, April 21st
Remember to pick a clean-up location and register in advance. Participants are advised to wear appropriate clothing such as gloves, boots, and a hat. Items such as bug repellant, bottled water, sunscreen, and a pail for sharp objects can be handy as well.
For more information on Earth Day activities, you can view a complete list of events here.