Earth Day Has Some History and Influence

April 24th members of Peer Leaders and OEA gathered at Oakmont to pick up trash in honor of Earth Day and the first annual Keep Ashburnham Beautiful Day.


Most people know about when Earth Day is, near the end of April and you usually see some environment clean ups around it. When you were in elementary school around April 22 there was always a lesson about how to take care of the Earth and to not be a litterbug. But how much do you really know about Earth Day and how it came to be and what changes it sparked? 

The first ever Earth Day was 51 years ago in Charleston, South Carolina and people across the nation took part in this historic day. 

The first Earth Day was the start of the modern environmental movement. In the years leading up to Earth Day, large amounts of lead gases were being used by Americans in their cars. This along with the smoke and sludge that factories were throwing out into the environment caused massive amounts of air pollution. Unaware of the health threats many Americans did not think about how these things were affecting the environment. Then in January 1969 a massive oil spill happened in Santa Barbara, California and something had to change. 

     Senator Gaylord Nelson, who for a while had concerns about the environment in the United States, saw the effects of this oil spill and took action. Senator Nelson took inspiration from the students’ anti-war movements. He found a way to mix the energy and spunk from the anti-war protests with bringing awareness to the water and air pollution problems. He planned a Teach-in that would be held on college campuses and shown through national media. Senator Nelson convinced congressman Pete McCloskey to co chair the event with him and they got Denis Hayes, a young activist, to help plan the day. To get the most student involvement they chose April 22 a day that landed in between spring break and final exams.

A staff of 85 was given the task of promoting the event across the country and they began to call the Teach-in Earth Day. This new name gained a lot of media attention. 20 million Americans were inspired by Earth Day. They took to the streets and organized protests, demonstrations and rallies against the deterioration of the environment and demanding improvements. Earth Day created a united front of Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, young and old. People all across America came together on April 22, 1970 to fight for the Earth.                

The first Earth Day led to many environmental reforms. At the end of 1970 the United States Environmental Protection Agency was formed and the first ever environmental laws were made. This made it so the National Environmental Education Act,  the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act were passed. Within three years of that came the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Federal Insecticide and, the Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

In 1990 Earth Day globalized as a group of environmental leaders including Denis Hayes organized another campaign to expand upon Earth Day. 200 million people over 141 countries to bring environmental issues to the world view. As of this year over 190 countries and 1 billion people take action every year on Earth Day.   

Even in our own community this year people got to work this year, in both Ashburnham and Westminster for Earth Day they organized town wide cleanups. These took place on Saturday, April 24 where people in both towns went out and picked up as much litter as they could. Even some Oakmont students participated and cleaned up around both the Oakmont and Overlook properties. Taking care of the Earth is not just a one day thing you should always be cautious of what you are doing and how it can affect the environment around you.