The first Earth Day celebration was in 1970 with approximately 20 million Americans participating. Now, Earth Day is celebrated by over a billion people in 180 nations around the world.
In the 1960s, issues dealing with the environment were not considered political concerns. U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin had attempted to gather support to focus on the environment, but none of his efforts had been successful. People's frustrations grew as environmental conditions worsened without gaining attention. With the help of activist Denis Hayes, Senator Nelson decided to organize an environmental protest to raise awareness. This protest, which took place on April 22, 1970, became known as the first Earth Day. Later that year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created, showing that environmental issues such as air and water quality had attracted political attention.
Since this first Earth Day, environmentalism has become a popular topic all over the world. "Approximately 80 percent of Americans describe themselves as environmentalists," according to Amy Cassara of the World Resources Institute. As our environmental knowledge has continued to grow since the first Earth Day, we have learned that the issues may not be as simple as dirty air. The Earth Day Network was founded by the original organizers of Earth Day. It is pushing Earth Day to move from single-day actions, such as cleanups and tree-plantings, to actions and commitments that could have an even bigger effect over the long term.
There are a lot of ways to participate in Earth Day. People are encouraged to join an Earth Day event in their area, or to make a pledge to lead a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. This could include buying green products such as energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or creating a recycling plan for your home or business.
** Source: news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/04/1