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Earth Day 2019

Not a public holiday, but a day that is marked in many countries

Earth Day is marked on 22 April
Sunrise on Earth Day 2008 via NASA

When is Earth Day?

How long until Earth Day?
This holiday next takes place in 154 Days.
Dates of Earth Day
Year Weekday Date
2020 Wednesday
2019 Monday
2018 Sunday
2017 Saturday
2016 Friday
Duration
1 Day
Summary
Marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970

Whilst not a national holiday, Earth Day on 22 April each year marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

It has been estimated that Earth Day is celebrated by over a billion people worldwide, making it the most widely celebrated secular holiday in the world after New Year's Day and International Worker's Day.

The campaign for 2018 is to End Plastic Pollution.

From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of our planet.

In response, Earth Day 2018 will focus on fundamentally changing human attitude and behavior about plastics and catalyzing a significant reduction in plastic pollution.

History of Earth Day

Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, proposed the first nationwide environmental protest "to shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda. " "It was a gamble," he recalls, "but it worked." At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity.

On 22 April 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

The date of 22 April was chosen as it falls between final exams and spring break for students in America, who were seen as an important group that would get behind the ideas of Earth Day.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts. Sen. Nelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the highest honor given to civilians in the United States -- for his role as Earth Day founder.

As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting the status of environmental issues on to the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

Although Earth Day was founded by Senator Nelson, the name was actually coined by an advertising executive called Julian Koenig, who was also responsible for some famous marketing catch phrases, such as "Timex, it takes a licking, but keeps on ticking".

As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. For 2000, Earth Day had the Internet to help link activists around the world. By the time 22 April rolled around, 5,000 environmental groups around the world were on board, reaching out to hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries.

Many cities extend the Earth Day celebration to be an entire week, usually starting on 16 April, and ending on Earth Day, 22 April.

Article adapted from Earth Day network press room.

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