2015 Earth Day celebrates 45th anniversary

April 22, 2015, marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, a day to promote awareness about air and water pollution in your community.

Photo credit: Michigan State University

Photo credit: Michigan State University

While traveling to countries outside the United States, I am appalled by the seemingly lack of pride in communities in relationship to the amount of trash littering the country sides and cities, the open garbage dumps and general lack of environmental concern. It wasn’t that long ago many places in the United States might have resembled this lack of pride.

I grew up when trash along the side of the road was as common as Queen Anne’s lace and crabgrass. One of my Saturday activities was to take my little red wagon and pick up pop bottles that had been carelessly tossed out car windows. Collecting these had a great reward of 2 cents per bottle. Of course, there was penny candy too. It was not until the Michigan bottle law of 1976 was enacted with the highest deposit rate in the country at 10 cents per bottle. Along with the bottle law was enforcement of litter laws throughout the United States. The bottle law and litter laws have contributed to a cleaner environment.

April 22, 2015, will be the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. The idea came to the Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin. He proposed a “national teach-in on the environment,” a day to promote awareness about air and water pollution. It was intended to force the idea of environmental protection into the national spot light.

The result? On April 22, 1970, an amazing 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks and other public venues to demonstrate for a healthier, more sustainable environment. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

In 1990, Earth Day went global with more than 200 million people in 141 countries lifting environmental issues to the world stage. The 1990 Earth Day also boosted recycling efforts worldwide and helped launch the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. In honor of Senator Nelson’s role as the founder of Earth Day, President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995 – this is the highest honor given to civilians in the United States.

Every year on April 22, hundreds of communities across the United States and the world celebrate Earth Day with activities for children and adults alike. Take time to find out more about the celebrations planned in your community. Learn and promote earth-friendly activities such as recycling in your home and with your family. Make every day Earth Day!