When is Earth Day? Everything to know about the holiday, its history and this year's theme
For over 50 years, Earth Day has been celebrated across the country and globe through mobilization for environmental causes. But there was once a time when Americans were unaware of and oblivious to the impacts their consumption had on our Earth.
After the publication of "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson in 1962, the general public's attitude and awareness began to shift toward concern for our environment and the links between pollution and health.
Even though Earth Day is one day, many take initiative to better our planet every day. To see know it started, here is the history of Earth Day and when it falls in 2023.
When is Earth Day?
Earth Day 2023 is Saturday, April 22.
Why do we celebrate Earth Day?
Every year Earth Day is celebrated on April 22. While it is not a federally recognized holiday, people celebrate the day through the education, awareness and action toward the environment movement.
According to earthday.org, each Earth Day has the ability to "drive a year of energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to create a new plan of action for our planet."
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Similar to last year, Earth Day 2023 focuses on the need to "invest in our planet." This can be done through many initiatives, such as planting trees, voting, participating in cleanups, ending plastic consumption, practicing climate literacy and consuming sustainable fashion.
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When did Earth Day start?
The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. It came about thanks to Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin.
After years of having environmental concern, Nelson sought to educate people and raise public consciousness in the U.S. Along with Rep. Pete McCloskey, a California congressman, and Denis Hayes, an activist, they looked to organize campus teach-ins on April 22.
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Hayes helped grow their staff to promote events across the country, reaching various organizations, faith groups, among others. The name "Earth Day" was then adopted, and national media attention toward it grew. Americans across the country were inspired by Earth Day, and 20 million people participated in various efforts to bring awareness to environmental causes, such as fighting against pollution, oil spills and pesticides.
Individual environmental advocacy groups came together on Earth Day due to their common cause: helping the planet. Political alignment even occurred as Republicans and Democrats both gave support to these efforts.
The first Earth Day led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the passage of first of their kind environmental laws, such as the National Environmental Education Act and the Clean Air Act. In the years following, other acts and laws were passed to protect our environment and the people and animals that live in it.
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By 1990, Earth Day went global as 200 million people in 141 countries celebrated Earth Day by calling attention to various environmental issues. Today, Earth Day is one of the largest secular observances in the world with over 1 billion people participating each year.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: When is Earth Day 2023? History on the holiday and why we celebrate.