The Roots of Earth Day
Earth Day is right around the corner, and this year the movement’s focus is reducing plastics. Each year, Earth Day has championed a specific environmental issue that has lasting results. Earth Day originated in the 1970s spearheaded by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson in a bipartisan effort to bring awareness to the pollution humans were creating around the country.
Earth Day had such broad support from Americans with diverse ethnicities, ages, and incomes that by the end of 1970, the United States had passed groundbreaking environmental legislation such as the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. It also led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency!
The 1990s launched Earth Day into a global movement involving 200 million people in 141 countries! The 90’s efforts focused on comprehensive recycling and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995)—the highest honor given to civilians in the United States—for his role as Earth Day founder.
The 2000s focus was global warming and adoption of clean energy, which sent world leaders a clear message that people around the world were demanding a cleaner environment by reducing fossil fuel use. We have seen the results of that effort with local and national governments setting renewable energy standards, and utilities implementing solar and wind programs. In addition, the broad demand for solar from residents and businesses alike, and supportive policy such as Colorado’s and Minnesota’s groundbreaking community solar legislation, have reduced barriers for residents to participate in renewable energy programs.Today, Earth Day is the largest secular observance in the world! Over a billion people celebrate the day that results in changing human behavior and provokes policy changes. So, join the global effort in 2018 to reduce plastic consumption by using these tips!