A Brief History of Earth Day

Rose Truesdale
Green your plate today.


Happy Earth Day! Today marks the 46th anniversary of the modern environmental movement. Celebrated annually by over one billion people across the globe, Earth Day has an origin story as rich as the soil from which we harvest our produce.

Picture it: 1970… the year Jimmy Hendrix died, the last Beatle’s album was released, and flower children everywhere reeled from the toxic, smoggy aftermath of The Industrial Revolution.

Inspired by the rapid traction of the anti-war movement and an emerging consciousness surrounding air and water pollution, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson channeled that activist spirit to the environmental scene. In response to recent oil spills, polluting factories, and the rise of freeways at the cost of forests, he gathered a team of 85, picked a date (April 22nd — right between spring break and finals for collegiate revolutionaries!), and got to work.

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans rallied for a healthy, sustainable planet, realizing that their respective fights — against toxic dumps, pesticides, raw sewage, and the extinction of wildlife — served one common purpose: the betterment of Earth. Feeling power in numbers, environmental activists pushed for the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts, all of which were passed that same year.

Since 1970, planetary preservation efforts have grown tenfold. In 1990, Earth Day went global, assembling 200 million people in 141 countries and boosting recycling efforts worldwide. Five years later, Senator Nelson was awarded the Presidential Metal of Freedom, the highest honor given to U.S. civilians, for founding Earth Day. In more recent decades, Earth Day has spread awareness about global warming; pushed for clean energy; introduced The Canopy Project, a global tree planting initiative; and engaged 192 countries in countless preservation efforts.

We’re doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint by using only recyclable and compostable packaging, and eliminating food waste with pre-portioned ingredients. How will you honor our planet today?


Statistics courtesy of Earth Day Network