Earth Day 2017

Written by Naomi Lai

This Saturday, April 22, people will be taking part in Earth Day celebrations all around the world! 192 countries now participate in the annual occasion, which first began almost 50 years ago. A variety of events are held, including tree planting, garbage pick-up excursions, educational lectures, art exhibitions, parades, and more. The first Earth Day celebration took place in the United States and has since become a global affair, bringing people together as we strive to fight climate change, educate future generations, and reduce our carbon footprint.

Past Earth Day Celebrations
The first Earth Day was marked by a simple educational teach-in with United States Senator, Gaylord Nelson. Since then, famous environmental activists such as Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, David Suzuki, and Jane Goodall have all taken part in Earth Day events.

In 2015 NASA ran a captivating Earth Day campaign when the trending hashtag, #NoPlaceLikeHome, encouraged citizens of the world to share photos of their favourite places on earth across social media platforms. Submissions included stunning photographs from all over the world; everything from cozy backyard patios in America to the breathtaking mountains of Nepal. The vastly different interpretations brought a sense of global unity in protecting our common "home", and brought awareness to the event.

Last year, Earth Day saw more unique global events than ever before:

  • Vietnam made a statement with a special flash mob performance and "GreenRun" which was held to raise awareness for water conservation. 
  • In Eastern Europe, millions of people used Earth Day to gather together and pick up garbage in 6 different countries. 
  • Mass tree planting excursions were held on around the world, including small islands like Kiribati and St. Kitts & Nevis. 
  • Over 20,000 people in India joined in as a special environmental cycling parade was held to boost environmental awareness. 

Past Earth Day success demonstrates the incredible global commitment to fighting climate change, and in 2017 the momentum continues to build. 

This Year
This year, EarthDay.org is campaigning for global Environmental & Climate Literacy. Their goal is to ensure all students around the world graduate high school with a specific level of environmental understanding, calling them “environmental and climate literate citizens”. They believe this will encourage young people to fuel positive change, and hope to achieve this new standard by 2020. Renowned environmentalists such as David Suzuki and Ian Hanington endorse this year's campaign, and support the notion that education is an important aspect of achieving a more sustainable and environmentally conscious world. 

Earth Day Canada
Canada has been celebrating Earth Day since 1980, and has used the occasion to focus attention on tree planting, waterway clean up, eco-friendly commuting, and other important causes in previous years.

This year the EDC (Earth Day Canada) committee is focusing on a specific campaign, #Pledge4PLAY, which aims to build a new “adventure playground” for youth in Toronto through crowdfunding. This is to encourage young people to play outdoors more often, something that has become less and less common in recent years. The EDC wants to create a future generation of environmentally responsible and conscious citizens, and believe this can be achieved by getting young people in touch with the natural world. 

“…kids who don’t get outside, who aren’t stimulated by their environment, won’t grow up with any motivation to protect our planet.” –Earth Day Canada.

Earth Day has been, and continues to be a valuable instrument in creating environmental awareness around the world. While we still have a long way to go, there has been some significant development in the last 47 years. The introduction of electric cars and emission testing has helped lower carbon dioxide pollution. Asbestos has now been banned and is being phased out in many countries. Measures have been taken towards water conservation, from The Great Lakes Protection Act in 2015, to the novel concept of granting The Ganges and Yamuna rivers human rights in India. 

Environmental repair can only be achieved through continual effort; actions both small and large. Earth Day has seen wild success in fuelling a desire for change across the world, and if we all work together there is still hope for a green future. To raise awareness and create some friendly office competition, ECOH is holding an internal contest among its employees to see who can complete the most eco-friendly tasks this week. Of course, these actions are important habits for everyday life, and are just a small part of what can be done to create a brighter, greener future.

We hope you'll join us in making a change!