Earth Day 2023: Investing in Our Planet to Protect Our Future
Updated: Apr 26
April 22nd is not just any day. It was carefully chosen to have Earth Day in being the halfway point between Spring Break and Final Exams for many American college students. This date allowed for the greatest student participation in a new movement 53 years ago - the environmental movement.
Since - Earth Day is celebrated across the globe, with it’s worldwide launch in 1990. But what is Earth Day for? Well, that is different year on year. In 2023 “Invest In Our Planet” is its focus - at a time of a cost of living crisis for many in a post-pandemic time. The movement has changed considerably with the day focusing on natural resources and celebrating all things green. Earth Day has become a large part of school curriculums to educate the younger generations on sustainable living to keep our resources and species rich and flourishing.
But what did Earth Day mean before? It came at a time of big cultural and political change, at the start of the environmental era. 1950s and 1960s commercialism saw people’s quality of life improve but with a toll on the environment. As deterioration on the environment built up, in January 1969 a large oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. In the same year the Cuyahoga River, running through much of Ohio, USA caught fire as the water contained such high concentrations of chemical runoff from factories on the river banks. This phenomenon of water catching fire sparked attention and encouraged change.
In 1969 the day was proposed at the UNESCO Conference in San Francisco by John McConnell to symbolise peace with the Earth. David Hayes was recruited by US Senator Gaylord Nelson who developed it into Earth Day on April 22nd. An estimated 10% of Americans protested against the human and environmental health impacts that 150 years of industrialism had.
The environmental era saw governance change policies across the globe with the creation of Clean Air Acts internationally. Earth Day in the USA led to the Environmental Protection Agency and more laws to protect the environment. Changes to consumerism and industrialism in the coming decades gained Senator Nelson a Presidential Medal of Freedom by the US President Bill Clinton, which is the highest honor given to US civilians.
But what about 53 years later? It is still a platform for change. The mission is to create “diversity, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide”. In peaceful protests and improved green education, we are learning to work collaboratively with the environment to protect species, ecosystems and our health. Modern technologies and approaches by promoting an environmental curriculum, renewable energy development and a ‘green economy’ are more recent agendas.
Earth Day has changed even in the last decade. As acceptance of climate change is becoming more and more agreed on, motivating people to make a change to their lifestyles. Many protest to their local governments to create changes in legislation or taxes to bring emissions down.
Many government bodies generally agree with the importance of Earth Day. The Paris Agreement, signed by 175 countries to make changes to their footprints by 2030 occured on April 22nd.
In 2014 the theme of Earth Day was Green Cities, with in 2016 a theme of Trees for Earth coinciding with this Paris Agreement. In 2018, End Plastic Pollution was promoted. What about in 2023? Invest in Our Planet.
There are programs within this: The Great Global Cleanup, Sustainable Fashion, Climate and Environmental Literacy, Canopy Project, Food and Environment and the Global Earth Challenge. These are to approach different areas of environmental degradation. Scientists are learning more on environmental interconnectivity that exists across different pollutants and triggers that upset the balance of environmental systems - the ‘equilibrium’.
As themes change year on year to reflect the issues - the core issues still remain the same. To promote environmentally friendly habits. Whether educating the masses, protesting for governmental change or making changes to your own lifestyles - they all carry the same message. HeroesToo aims to encourage change from us - the consumers. We hope to educate to allow our readers to make well informed decisions.
What do we recommend you do on this Earth Day? Two things: read the content out there, see articles on social media or in the news as facts on environmental degradation will be brought forward today. If you’re up for a challenge: we suggest trying a zero waste day.
Take today to make use of your reusable cups or straws. If you’re going to the store, bring your own reusable bag and opt for those items with less packaging if possible. Try not to throw any food in the trash today. Try to use up those fresh items in other recipes, even if their freshness is past its peak. Soups, stews and cakes are a great way to incorporate these! But a big one today, only take the car if you need to. Public transport or walking will lessen your footprint - and today is a great day to do just that.
Earth Day 2016. (2023). Retrieved from the Boston Globe website: https://www3.bostonglobe.com/news/bigpicture/2016/04/22/earth-day/YPIaBxpxvJtfmxYIRPIwCK/story.html?arc404=true
Earth Day 2014 with Green cities theme celebrated. (2014, April 22). Retrieved from the Business Standard website: https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/earth-day-2014-with-green-cities-theme-celebrated-114042200722_1.html
The History of Earth Day. (2023). Retrieved from the Earth Day website: https://www.earthday.org/history/
Uehlein, J. (2010, April 22). Labor and environmentalists have been teaming up since the first Earth Day. Retrieved from the Grist website: https://grist.org/article/2010-04-21-labor-and-environmentalists-have-been-teaming-up-since-the-first/
Why Earth Day is more important than ever. (2020, April 22). Retrieved from the United Nations Environmental Protection website:
Winsor, M. (2018, April 21). Earth Day 2018: Everything You Need To Know. Retrieved from the abc News website: https://abcnews.go.com/International/earth-day-2018/story?id=54555421