earth day
Paulo Cesar Silva for

•On April 22, 1970, the first official Earth Day celebration took place.
•Earth Day is a powerful reminder of our collective duty as stewards of the planet.
•Among the ways Filipinos can support Earth Day is by adopting a zero-waste lifestyle.

(Updated on April 22, 2021) The year was 1970. A year earlier, the first man landed on the moon, the Beatles had their last public performance, and a large-scale oil spill took place in Santa Barbara, California, causing massive environmental damage.

At this point, American senator Gaylord Nelson decided that he’d had enough. That oil spill, especially in the light of increasing industrial air pollution, was utterly unacceptable. That year, he swore, would be different.

Passion for the planet

At the time, revolts and protests gripped the spirit of society, both in Nelson’s home country and beyond. It was the time of the Vietnam War, and American students took to the streets with placards and passionate outcries to protest it.

It was that same spirit that Nelson sought to invoke in the first Earth Day celebration on April 22, 1970. He focused his passion towards raising awareness on the issue of environmental protection.

Amazingly, it worked.

On that day, nearly 20 million Americans from coast to coast championed sustainable environmental practices. By the end of that year, the US Environmental Protection Agency was founded, along with the passing of both the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air, Clean Water Act.

The new millennium brought in an even bigger movement. Now, over 180 countries celebrate Earth Day, gathering people from all walks of life to encourage both conversation and action.

The ever-present Earth Day question

Unsurprisingly, “Will Earth Day be enough to save the planet?” is a question that often gets thrown around in these discussions.

Let’s be real: Of course not. It’s naive and even dangerous to think that a single day in a year would be enough.

Earth Day still matters, though. Much like Earth Hour, it’s a reminder–and a powerful one, at that.

It’s a reminder of our responsibility to the world, heard around the world.

To this day, annual Earth Day celebrations gather hundreds of millions of people worldwide around meaningful discussions and dynamic actions, built on the same spirit of revolution that birthed the movement in 1970.

And the great news is: You can be part of the movement, too.

Restore our Earth

The Earth Day Network recommends measures such as gearing leaning towards a more plant-based diet, or stopping pesticide use to enrich the health of plant species.

As consumers, we must also be mindful of the products we purchase. Beware of brands that engage in animal cruelty or large-scale environmental destruction.

Furthermore, building towards a zero-waste lifestyle is not as hard as some may think. Start with smaller actions, such as bringing reusable bags to the market or limiting the amount of disposable utensils you use.

The year is 2021. It has been 51 years since the first Earth Day celebration, and the battle still continues. Things are looking up, though, and even small actions can bring about big changes.

By turning off lights that aren’t in use, being more mindful of your consumption and waste production, or simply educating a friend about the rapid rate at which species are going extinct, you are doing your part.

We can all make the world a better place, not just on Earth Day, but every single day.–MF



Author: Lia Angela Bote