A graphic of the earth for Earth Day 2022. Earth Day is a day to recognize and honor our planet. GRAPHIC BY KAT PROCACCI

As a little girl, I used to demand my friends pick up their candy wrappers, chastise my brother for spitting his gum on the ground and scrutinize strangers on the street with trash in their hands. I respected community service workers and volunteers, occasionally aiding them in their labor by helping to clear any trash on the path. 

The health of the environment has since been a priority for me — neat streets are a must and spotless beaches a luxury. Clean air is something to long for in a city of pollution, and healthy oceans should be humanity’s goal. 

My passion for Earth’s wellness is supported by the environmental movement of 1970, an effort dedicated to ensuring the stability of our planet. This movement reflects my concerns surrounding the impact of environmental degradation on human health, highlighting the threats of toxic waste and climate change while informing the public on the detriments their actions impose.

To me, Earth Day is a cause for both action and celebration. It stands for the fight for global health, represents shared values and ideals and serves to unify even those with contrasting roots. 

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Earth Day is a reflection of my passion for clean streets and waters, of my dislike of waste and littering. Specifically, I love how unifying the day is because it brings groups and activists — even those with contrasting ideals — together in honor of a mutual goal. 

I also find the modern digital era to be fascinating in its ability to propel the cause by spreading awareness and targeting audiences of all age groups. I value the projects, fundraisers and growing ambitions advertised on the internet that work to engage the new young generation in fighting climate change, cleaning beaches and shifting to a greener lifestyle that would decrease greenhouse gas emissions. 

While each day should be focused on bettering the planet, days like April 22 come around to remind humanity of what truly matters — salvaging the planet and ourselves from our own actions. 

April 22 has become a globally recognized date in honor of the planet. Prior to Earth Day’s origin in 1970, the deteriorating environment went more unnoticed than it does today. The public went about its day amid polluted air, leaded gas and oil spills, without regard for human or global health. Oil companies and corporations such as ExxonMobil were investing billions of dollars in drilling rights, contributing to the climate crisis while blatantly denying it. Climate research in the ‘60s and ‘70s was limited, but still pointed to the anticipated possibility of global warming. Nonetheless, America remained oblivious to the environmental consequences that directly affected its own prosperity. 

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After witnessing the damage of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, Senator Gaylord Nelson vocalized his aging concern for the planet’s condition. He recruited a staff of 85 people and proposed a movement that sought to educate youth on environmentalism and thereby spark student activism. His idea for events and teach-ins around the country and on college campuses on April 22 — a weekday between spring break and finals that would evoke the most student participation — would go on to mark the national Earth Day. 

Consequently, the streets saw 20 million people protest environmental neglect, and by 1990, the holiday had become global.

This movement aimed for and continues to strive toward transformation. Its annual reminder seeks to spread awareness of the global environmental crisis, sparking rallies, protests and conferences on the issue to reiterate the significance of a healthy planet. In doing so, it engages over one billion people from over 200 countries to fight for a shared cause. 

Earth Day 1970 sparked not only the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Clean Air Act, but also an unexpected social and political unity among Republicans and Democrats, business owners and laborers and the rich and the poor. It was interesting how people of all races, genders, sexualities and political affiliations came together in honor of the movement and the Earth. 

I think the creation of Earth Day alone stands for a powerful cause. It shows not only the mutual passion of our nations to salvage the environment, but our dedication to do so. It speaks to the social unity and activism that work together to strengthen a sense of community and reform our actions for the greater good. 

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