Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson started Earth Day in 1970 to educate the public about environmental issues. In 2018, more than 1 billion people worldwide participated in at least one Earth Day activity, making it “the largest secular civic event in the world,” according to the Earth Day Network.
Nelson’s goal was to bring awareness to environmental pollution the United States, but the idea of a day for environmental education spread quickly and Earth Day became an international event. Earth Day 2019 happens on April 22, but celebrations, classes, and volunteer opportunities are held throughout the month. The campaign for 2019 is Protect Our Species, focusing on animals on the endangered species list and habitat preservation and restoration.
Wondering what you can do to support the earth? Start with these resources.
Engdangered by Tim Flach, a photographic record of endangered animals around the world
+ This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein
+ The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolber
The official Earth Day Network site to learn more about their work “year round to solve climate change, to end plastic pollution, to protect endangered species, and to broaden, educate, and activate the environmental movement across the globe.
+ UN’s International Mother Earth Day resources
+ History’s Earth Day 2019 site about the origins of the day
A Plastic Ocean, a film about the impact of plastics on our oceans, which has been screened in over 90 countries and on 6 continents in over 17 languages can be seen on Netflix
+ Earth Day Network’s Protect Our Species and library of resources
+ Shaun Frankson’s Ted Talk “How to Save Earth with 5 minutes a day of responsible consumerism”
+ Virunga, a documentary produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, centered on the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo can be seen on Netflix
Ted-Ed Blog’s 5 Ted-Ed Lessons to Watch on Earth Day for great kid-friendly videos on environmental topics like how solar panels work and why biodiversity is important
+ National Education Association (NEA)’s Earth Day Curriculum Resources for K-12
+ Scholastic’s Celebrate Earth Day Collection
Think ahead to Earth Day 2020, the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. The Earth Day Network and their partners need volunteers to help plant trees, clean up areas, and build environmental and climate literacy worldwide. Sign up to help with major events and initiatives leading up to the day
+ Check out volunteer opportunities with The Nature Conservancy
+ Volunteer to help the National Wildlife Federation including habitat restoration, educational events, and more
+ In NYC, volunteer to help in NYC parks with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation
Illustration by Ben Tuttle / Ultravirgo
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