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the origin of earth day

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok


Author: Emma Hill 

April 22nd is just around the corner and Earth Day initiatives and events will be hitting the city. Have you ever wondered how the Earth Day movement all began? bare market blogger Emma shares the history of Earth Day and some events coming up in Toronto.  

Earth Day is a worldwide celebration that aims to do one thing - demonstrate support for environmental protection. Every year there are a wide range of campaigns and initiatives that take center stage on subjects such as climate change action, reducing plastic pollution, and protecting endangered species. Earth Day is more than just a day though, it is a collaborative effort to advance the environmental movement across the world.

ever wonder how such a day started?

The first Earth Day originated in America and dates back to 1970. United States Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed that April 22nd should be the official Earth Day date, a day where nationwide demonstrations highlighting environmental concerns could sweep the country. Celebrations took place across two thousand post-secondary schools, ten thousand primary and secondary schools, and across hundreds of American communities. Senator Nelson’s vision was for a country wide collaborative movement that would aim to put environmental protection on America’s political agenda. This strategy worked to some degree - only three months later the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in the United States of America to regulate and enforce national pollution legislation.

For years Earth Day was celebrated only in the United States, but for its 20-year anniversary, in 1990, the movement went international. Two groups mobilized the campaign, the Earth Day 20 foundation and the Earth Day 1990 team. These two groups helped take the event worldwide and had more than 200 million people in 141 countries participate in Earth Day celebrations.

Elevating Earth Day to an international event helped a number of environmental campaigns gain in popularity, such as recycling and endangered species protection. The transition to an international event also helped initiate the first United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Today, Earth Day is celebrated in 192 countries and has also expanded to incorporate an Earth Week in many of the countries. Earth Day still manages to inspire and highlight important environmental campaigns and events, such as the 2017 March for Science (April 22, 2017) and the People's Climate Mobilization (April 29, 2017).

Photo by Markus Spiske



If you’re looking for something to do this Earth Day or Earth Week you can check out some of these events in Toronto:

Earth Day Family Celebration by Toronto Botanical Garden:

Saturday, 27 April from 12:00 PM –  3:00 PM

    • Help plant the Teaching Garden, create nature crafts, listen to nature-themed stories, ride the blender bike and more!
Earth Day at Downsview Park:

    Sunday, 28 April from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM 

      • For more than 15 years, Earth Day at Downsview Park has been a go-to event for families looking to get involved in the world’s largest environmental movement.
    Clean Toronto Together:

      April 26 – April 28

        • Toronto’s annual spring cleanup will take place on April 26-28, 2019. Join 200,000 residents, students, businesses, organizations and community groups for the 16th annual city-wide cleanup of public spaces.
      Build, create, make-believe and get messy at ParkPLAY:

        Saturday, April 20 from 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

          • Taking place in Trinity Bellwoods Park, ParkPLAY is Earth Day Canada's main event. It provides a space for children to build, create, make-believe, get messy, invent, and collaborate in Earth Day Canada's "Wild About Canada" Pop-Up Adventure Playground. Participants can see up-close what an adventure playground looks like and why Earth Day Canada is fundraising to bring more of them to parks across Canada.

        bare market’s crowdfunding campaign:

        Monday, April 22 - May 22

          • bare market is launching a crowdfunding campaign to help raise the final funds needed to open a permanent retail store in Toronto that will also act as a community hub! Find out all the details when it launches this Monday!

        Author Bio: Emma graduated with a Master’s degree in Environmental Science and now works in the charitable environmental sector. She has made environmental and climate change action a priority in her life and strongly believes that a circular economy, collaboration and education are key tools to achieving sustainability.

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