10 Earth Day Facts You Probably Never Knew
Don’t know much about Earth Day? Prep for any Earth Day quiz with these fun facts and bits of trivia.
April 22 is Earth Day, a day where humans everywhere take a minute to be grateful for this planet and the amazing natural resources we’ve benefited from thus far. It’s also a day where we do our best to make sure future generations can continue to enjoy those resources. Maybe you’ll unplug the TV, take a bike to work, plant a tree, make more of an effort recycling.
However you choose to honor it, Earth Day is a great way to jumpstart a lifetime of taking better care of our planet. While you’re celebrating Earth Day (or making plans for the eco-conscious day), take a minute to read our favorite Earth Day facts.
Earth Day facts
Earth Day was inspired by Vietnam war protesters. It was started in 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, after he noticed people protesting the Vietnam War, but not putting any pressure on government about the damage being done to the planet via contaminants like oil spills, pesticides, and deadly smog.
The date was chosen to appeal to college students. April 22 was chosen intentionally by Senator Nelson and grad student Denis Hayes (who went on to internationalize Earth Day and start the Earth Day Network, among other foundations). They strategically selected April 22 in order to attract more college students, who were known for being politically active during that era of protest. The date fell between spring break and final exams.
This American holiday had a strong start. 20 million Americans celebrated the first Earth Day in 1970. It has since grown, and has been celebrated in more than 192 countries by over one billion civic-minded supporters.
Other countries know it as “International Mother Earth Day.”That’s the name it was given by the United Nations in 2009. Here in the states, we still call it plain old Earth Day.
The Earth Day movement drove the creation of the EPA. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was approved by President Richard Nixon in 1970 as a result of the Earth Day movement. Legislation on clean air, clean water, toxic substances, and endangered species were passed, too.
Everyone can participate in Earth Day. People of all ages can march, plant trees, clean up their communities, and reduce waste in their own homes (or even try zero waste) with smart Earth Day tips. Proactive corporations and governments often use Earth Day to announce sustainability measures and pledges to support the environment.
Earth Day is not the same as Equinox Day. Equinox Day, which also celebrates the idea of caring for the planet, is held on the first day of spring, March 20. (In 2020, Equinox Day occurred on March 19, the earliest arrival of spring in more than a century.)
Earth Day has its own theme song. The Earth Day Anthem was written in 2013 by Indian poet Abhay Kumar, and has since been recorded in all official UN languages.
This global movement has inspired real change. On Earth Day 2011, 28 million trees were planted in Afghanistan for a “Plant Trees Not Bombs” campaign. In 2012, more than 100,000 people in China rode their bikes in order to reduce CO2 emissions and highlight the amount of pollution created by cars.
Each year, the Earth Day theme changes. In 1990, the spotlight was on global mobilization of environmental issues with a strong focus on recycling. In 2000 it was about global warming and clean energy. 2010 marked the world’s largest environmental service project—A Billion Acts of Green—as well as a 250,000 person climate change rally in Washington, D.C. The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action, a challenge to take action to reduce climate change.