Earth Day: From Grassroots Campaign to Global Phenomenon

Earth Day began as a small movement that grew into a worldwide campaign for a greener, cleaner environment for all living organisms.

How much do you know about Earth Day? Check out some facts below from Earth Day Network.

  • Earth Day began April 22, 1970.
  • Founder: Gaylord Nelson, former U.S. Senator of Wisconsin. Nelson took action after witnessing the extensive damage caused by the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Nelson, along with Pete McCloskey, a Republican congressman, as his co-chair and Denis Hayes as national coordinator, built a national staff of 85 to promote rallies and events across the U.S. to raise public awareness for the environment and public health.
  • On the first Earth Day 20 million Americans took to the streets and parks to protest for a cleaner, more sustainable, healthy environment. Thousands of colleges across the U.S. organized protests to fight against oil spills, pollution from factories, vehicles and power plants, toxic dumps, raw sewage and the extinction of wildlife.
  • The first Earth Day rally sparked the birth of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.
  • Hayes organized a second worldwide campaign in 1990, which included 200 million people in 141 countries. Hayes's second campaign inspired recycling worldwide and paved the way for the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
  • Earth Day 2010—the 40th anniversary—brought 225,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally and began a worldwide program—A Billion Acts of Green, which is the largest environmental service campaign in the world.
  • More than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the "largest civic observance" in the world.


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