Earth in HandsEvery Day Is Earth Day!

History of Earth Day

the 1969 National UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, social activist, John McConnell, proposed an Earth Day to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. This day was dedicated, from its birth, to celebrate Earth’s life and beauty, and the need for preserving and renewing the threatened ecological balances upon which all life on Earth depends. The proposal won strong support and was followed by an Earth Day Proclamation by the City of San Francisco. The idea, supported by U. N. Secretary General U Thant, Margaret Mead and many others, spread worldwide. The ringing of the United Nations Peace Bell at the moment of the March Equinox on Earth Day has become a tradition.

The Democratic senator, Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, eventually founded the first nationwide Earth Day that was celebrated on 22 April 1970. Inspired by the protest movements of the 1960s, twenty million Americans took to the streets to demonstrate for a cleaner environment. In the aftermath, President Richard M. Nixon proposed the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in July 1970 and Congress passed the Clean Air (1970), Clean Water (1972), and Endangered Species (1973) Acts. The 2010 Earth Day, now celebrated worldwide, is its 40th anniversary.

Also, read “The History of Earth Day” by Senator Gaylord Nelson, for personal reflections on the birthing of this now global celebration of preserving and conserving the Earth and its valuable natural resources.

Classroom Activities

Earth Day Network Toolkits

Earth Day Lessons & Activities, Teaching Guide

Earth Day Lesson Plans, The Science Spot

Environmental Event Dates

  • World Wetlands Day – February 2
  • National Biodiesel Day – March 18
  • UN World Day for Water – March 22
  • Earth Hour – March 27, 2010
  • Earth Awareness Month – Month of April
  • Fossil Fools Day – April 1, 2010
  • Annual Earth Day – April 22
  • Arbor Day – Last Friday in April (each state also has its own observation based on best tree planting time)
  • International Day for Biological Diversity (World Biodiversity Day) – May 22
  • Bike-to-Work Day – Third Friday in May
  • UN World Environment Day – June 5
  • International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer – September 16
  • Zero Emissions Day – September 21
  • Car Free Day – September 22
  • UN World Habitat Day – first Monday in October
  • International Day of Climate Action – October 24
  • Hawai‘i Recycles Day (America Recycles Day) – November 15
  • World Soil Day – December 5

Other Resources

Earth Day Network
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Earth Day
History Network – Earth Day
Hawai‘i Community College Tropical Forest Ecosystem & Agroforestry Management Program (Forest TEAM)