13 Earth Day Facts That Will Motivate You to Help the Planet

Rebecca Norris

Earth Day falls on April 22 each and every year, and while some may consider it to be something of a non-holiday, celebrated solely in grade school, it really is a day to celebrate the planet that we live on. After all, without the Earth, life as we know it wouldn’t exist.

With that in mind, we encourage anyone and everyone to take a moment to brush up on Earth Day facts and to find ways to honor the planet, because this isn’t just a day for making Earth Day crafts at school — it’s something people of all ages can enjoy. Whether on your own or with friends and family, you can take a few minutes (at least) on Monday, April 22, to nurture the land around you by partaking in an Earth Day activity.

Perhaps you’ll pick up litter along your dog-walking route or maybe you’ll plant some seeds to create your very own summer garden. If you live near a river or beach, you might want to walk down to the water to remove any stray plastic bottles or debris you see scattered on the shore. Or maybe you just want to cut down on your plastic consumption in general to honor the fact that EarthDay.org is rallying for a 60% reduction in plastics by 2040.

The point is, if you want to honor and celebrate Earth Day, there are many ways to do so. To inspire you to set aside time for the planet, ahead, find over a dozen surprising facts about Earth Day. Let them encourage you to lead a more planet-friendly life every day, not just on a single day every April.

Earth Day is on April 22 for a reason.

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Ever wonder why Earth Day is held on a random day in April? According to EarthDay.org, it’s because back at the inception of the Earth Day movement, April 22 fell between spring break and final exams, making it an optimal time for student participation during environmental teach-ins led by Wisconsin junior Senator Gaylord Nelson, his co-chair, Pete McCloskey and activist Denis Hayes.

Environmental teach-ins led to nationwide interest on the intersection of nature, industrialization and human health.

After witnessing the destruction of an oil spill in Santa Barbara, Nelson, McCloskey and Hayes set out with a national staff of 85 to educate the masses on the detrimental effects of industrialization on the environment and human health. After touring the States in 1969, 20 million Americans felt inspired to get involved. They took to the streets to rally for environmental policy.

Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970.

save your earth

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Thanks to the overwhelming interest in Earth Day rallies, the U.S. government created the Environmental Protection Agency by the end of 1970, and Earth Day became an annual event.

Earth Day was years in the making by the time it debuted.

While Earth Day wasn’t nationally recognized until the ‘70s, a moment in 1962 largely inspired the movement. According to EarthDay.org, the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962 sparked nationwide interest in environmental issues. The book “raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment, and the inextricable links between pollution and public health,” the site reads.

Earth Day became a global initiative in 1990.

Twenty years after the policy-changing rallies in the U.S., Earth Day initiatives went global after Hayes led another eco-friendly campaign. It brought 200 million people in 141 countries together to raise awareness for the environment.

Now, Earth Day is celebrated in almost every country in the world.

human hands planting seedlings or trees in the soil earth day and global warming campaign

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According to National Geographic, Earth Day is celebrated annually in 190 countries. The efforts extend far beyond April 22, though. Thanks to the Earth Day Network (EDN), 20,000 partners in 190 countries work to create year-round eco-friendly initiatives, garnering more than one billion participants every year.

Earth Day is bi-partisan.

While there’s a common myth that environmental policy is only valued by liberals, Earth Day was actually created by Nelson, a Democrat, and McCloskey, a Republican congressman with a reputation for being a fiscal conservative and social progressive. Point being: Earth Day — and caring for the environment — shouldn’t be political. It’s something we should all be aligned with.

Every Earth Day has a theme.

While Earth Day is always on April 22, EarthDay.org creates a new theme each year. This year, the theme is Planet vs. Plastics, with a goal of reducing plastic consumption 60% by 2040.

Earth Day has an anthem.

Like many holidays, Earth Day even has a song to help celebrate. The “Earth Anthem” was written in 2013 by poet-diplomat Abhay Kumar. It’s available in eight world languages.

There’s also an unofficial Earth Day flag.

children watch as the earth day flag is raised

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Hoping to put your love of Earth Day on display? Buy a flag! The unofficial Earth Day flag features the Blue Marble, a famous photograph of Earth shot in space in 1972 by the Apollo 17 crew.

In 2016, France set out to end food waste.

Earth Day efforts shed light on over-consumption and needless waste. France leaned into the initiative by passing a law in February 2016 that bans supermarkets from tossing unsold food. Instead, they are to donate the items to charities in need.

In 2018, Indians planted over 50 million trees in 24 hours.

Worldwide environmental efforts inspired people in India to rally together for a Guinness World Record in honor of Earth Day. According to Indian officials, 800,000 people banded together to plant 49.3 million trees in 24 hours on July 11, 2018, nabbing the title for the most trees planted in a single day.

During the pandemic, Earth Day initiatives went digital.

Even a global pandemic wasn’t going to keep nature lovers from celebrating Earth Day. In honor of the 50th anniversary, EarthDay.Org collaborated with a number of youth activists to host Earth Day Live, a three-day livestream that garnered over 100 million viewers.

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