Earth day was started in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Horrified by the environmental devastation wreaked by the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill (a spill which, for the record, was far smaller than the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill), Senator Nelson sought to capitalize on the mobilizing power of college students to seek environmental change.
Originally, Earth Day was to be a day of teaching and environmental advocacy, but it has grown into a day of service as well. Young people around the globe have dedicated their time and energy to helping better the earth, both on Earth Day and year-round. The Student Conservation Association (SCA), for example, has over 4,000 interns and volunteers who provide more than two million hours of conservation service per year and is sponsoring several Earth Day events.
But what can you do to get involved in Earth Day? A lot! Attend an Earth Day event in your area, or make a pledge to turn off your lights, take the bus or carpool to work, or call your representative about environmental issues. Even just going to your local park and cleaning up trash is helpful! A great thing you can do for Earth Day, however, is to celebrate it every day. The environment doesn’t just need our projection one day a year, it needs it every day. Making small changes in your life can do far more for the environment than attending a one-day event (though we certainly encourage that as well!).
Here at ICP, we strongly support Earth Day and the environmental movement. We are advocates of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps and other strategies for expanding opportunities for environment-focused youth service, and have created the Green Youth Service Resource Center to help compile publications, news and funding opportunities for environment-focused youth service. If you have any additional information for our resource center, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or, as always, just let us know in the comments!