Earth Day: What is It and How Can You Make a Difference?

children holding up a ball the colors of the earth


This Earth Day, we can make the change that is crucial to protecting our environment. Whether you decide to join a clean-up group in your area or simply remember to turn off the lights when they aren’t necessary, everybody can act to better our planet.

Picture this: it’s a beautiful day outside, the sun is shining, and there’s no place you’d rather be. You may be at the beach, you may be in the forest, or maybe you’re simply out on the porch with some lemonade on a nice warm day. 

Everything is perfect until, out of nowhere, a plastic bag blows right in your face. In this moment you may think to yourself, “Is that you, Katy Perry?” (if you know her song Firework) but, to your disappointment, there is no pop star, there are only more bags and other disposable goods floating through the air and piling up over the top of the once lush green ground.

Suddenly, your surroundings have transformed from a perfect picturesque wonderland to a trash-filled wasteland.

This reality is far too real these days, even if it doesn’t involve random thoughts about celebrities. The truth is, almost everywhere we go, we are surrounded by plastics, air pollution, and messes that just seem impossible to clean up, though this certainly didn’t start within the last decade.

The History of Earth Day

In 1962, a woman by the name of Rachel Carson published her New York Times bestseller, Silent Spring. Her book became the alarm that sounded the warnings of a continued path toward a more-polluted world. After selling hundreds of thousands of copies, the birth of a movement rocked the United States.

In 1969, just as you may have imagined yourself earlier, beachgoers in Santa Barbara, California had their Pacific landscape ravaged by a massive oil spill that devastated the coastline.

Like many others, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin found this to be a tragic occurrence and wanted to see a shift in the way Americans viewed the planet. While civil rights groups and anti-war groups already existed to stand up for their loved ones and the people around the globe, nobody had really stood up for the planet itself yet.

After some thought, Senator Nelson, Representative Pete McCloskey, and activist Denis Hayes set out to recruit 85 staff members around the country to make a change. Those 85 staff members quickly turned into thousands of supporters that led a coalition of environmental educators and changemakers that formed what we all know and love as Earth Day.

On April 22, 1970, the efforts of thousands led more than 20 million people to take to the streets, clean up, and protest against further pollution of the planet we all call home. This became a tradition and now, 53 years later, it’s time to do it again!

Today, the issues that rocked the United States back in the sixties have continued to plague the planet on a global scale. From the beaches of Indonesia to the soil of the Great Plains, the waste we generate can be found in the air, on the ground, and even deep below the surface in the form of microplastics.

This Earth Day, we can make the change that is crucial to protecting our environment. Whether you decide to join a clean-up group in your area or simply remember to turn off the lights when they aren’t necessary, everybody can act to better our planet.

Now, we know what you may be thinking. Leaving home to go clean up other peoples’ mess doesn’t exactly sound like the best time for some of us. For others, it may simply not be a possibility, and that’s okay. What matters is that we become mindful of the impact we make in our everyday lives.

What Can You Do to Help?

If you are feeling particularly motivated, check out this website to find a clean-up crew near you. If you’re on the fence, joining others to work for a common goal is a fantastic way to get out, get some sunshine, and meet plenty of new friends along the way!

If this isn’t an option for you, never fear! COTAP is here! Carbon Offsets To Alleviate Poverty (COTAP) works to teach you and anybody you care to share with how to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. On their website, you’ll find ways to reduce waste, energy consumption, even your carbon footprint! 

What’s Your Carbon Footprint?

Now, you may be wondering, “What the heck is a carbon footprint?” Well, your carbon footprint is the impact your lifestyle has on the environment. For most of us, that impact is much greater than we might think. Even for the folks who are the most environmentally conscious, it can be hard to have a minimal carbon footprint.

Curious about your carbon footprint? Check out this interactive-website to measure your own and see the changes that you could make.

Climate change can be overwhelming. As we always hear it, there is so much to do and so little time. While this may be true, small steps taken by everybody can lead to revolutionary leaps in our progress.

One of the most-important things we can do is educate our upcoming generations — our children, our students — about the things they can do to live a sustainable lifestyle. We can show them the beauty our planet has to offer and remind them that, if that beauty isn’t respected, it won’t be there for long. 

Earth Day for Kids

Educators around the globe have created some pretty nifty ideas for helping kids learn to respect the environment. The World Wildlife Foundation has created a series of free toolkits for teachers and parents to utilize, and PBS Kids has listed several different activities to help kids be the change they wish to see in the world!

It’s important to remember that everybody can step up to protect the planet, not only on Earth Day, but on any day! After all, our lives rely on the planet every single day, and it’s crucial that we preserve our home for the enjoyment of our future generations.

For more resources, visit