April 22, 2024

Earth Day 2024 Explained! History, impact & more

On Monday, April 22, 2024, Planet Wild will be celebrating Earth Day alongside thousands of other exciting projects, initiatives, and events around the world, all in an effort to underline the importance of protecting our planet and natural world. 

At Planet Wild, we are committed to real, tangible impact that actively supports biodiversity and rewilds the planet. Join us on Earth Day 2024 to help us make the planet a little wilder, one mission at a time! Learn more about how your Planet Wild membership can rewild forests, save endangered species, and clean up our oceans here

What is Earth Day?

Earth Day is a yearly event that highlights the importance of sustainability, wildlife protection, and climate action. It is marked every year on April 22 and brings together 190+ countries worldwide through initiatives, events, protests, and other awareness raising activities. Earth Day’s goal is to encourage collective action for a healthier planet and brighter future.

Homemade posters from climate protests
Many demos are held around the world during Earth Day

Every year Earth Day focuses on environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, pollution, and nature protection. It’s a great opportunity for people to take meaningful action to protect the planet. 

The History of Earth Day 

The Earth Day movement as it exists today has its roots in the United States more than 50 years ago. It started when author Rachel Carson published her 1962 New York Times bestseller Silent Spring, changing mainstream America’s awareness of biodiversity loss and the environment. 

Plastic waste piled on top of a blue ocean
This year's Earth Day theme is Planet vs. Plastics

During this time, US Senator Gaylord Nelson was becoming worried about the environment, especially after witnessing a devastating oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast in 1969. The spill killed thousands of seabirds and fish, and was the reason for Senator Nelson to establish Earth Day in the style of the student anti-war movement. Nelson recruited young activist Dennis Hayes to organize university teach-ins and to scale the idea beyond US campus grounds. 

The first official Earth Day was held in 1970, and was celebrated with rallies, marches, and educational events across the United States. The movement inspired 20 million Americans to take part, which was 10% of the population at the time! The day brought together lots of individual groups already fighting against factory pollution, oil spills, wilderness loss, toxic waste, and other environmental concerns with one common goal—to protect the Earth and its wildlife for future generations. 

Earth Day: Success Stories

Since 1970, Earth Day has grown into a global phenomenon, with over 190 countries taking part every year. The movement is so powerful because it unites individuals, communities, organizations, and governments in Earth-saving activities, such as tree plantings, beach cleanups, recycling drives, environmental workshops, and advocacy campaigns.

Woman cleaning up trash
Local clean-ups are a great hands-on way to contribute to Earth Day

Here are some of the most important wins as a direct result of Earth Day:

  • Earth Day is now recognized as the planet’s largest annual civic event, and has been the starting point for a number of key environmental legislation such as the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • In 2016, the United Nations chose Earth Day as the day to sign the Paris Climate Agreement into force.
  • Earth Day’s Canopy Project has planted hundreds of millions of trees in 32 countries, focusing on areas most in need of reforestation.
  • The Great Global Cleanup is Earth Day’s flagship volunteering program. Launching in 2019 with 5,300 events and over 510,000 volunteers, the Great Global Clean Up is now a worldwide event, and even has its own Discovery Channel Documentary hosted by Zac Efron. 
You can also help by planting trees and helping us rewild the planet!

One of Earth Day’s biggest successes is simply awareness. While it’s easy to feel unhappy by what’s happening to the natural world, a lot has changed as a direct result of better understanding and education around our changing environment. For example, since Earth Day 2023, there has been more investments in solar power than in oil for the first time, 26 species at risk of extinction have recovered in Australia, and there has been a crackdown on toxic chemicals commonly used in plastics

Planet vs. Plastics: Earth Day 2024

Speaking of plastics, this is the theme of Earth Day 2024. This year, Earth Day is demanding a 60% reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040. 

It is no surprise that plastic waste has had a devastating impact on our planet and its wildlife. Plastic is one of the world’s biggest problems, because a single plastic bottle can take up to 450 years to decompose! Plastic was designed to be cheap, durable, and flexible, but those characteristics have made it a problem for our rivers, oceans, and landfills. The plastic problem has become so bad that gigantic plastic islands the size of US States have accumulated in our oceans.

Plastic waste will outlive us, and almost all species on Earth

Plastic pollution is devastating for wildlife, and is one of the many factors hurting the world’s ecosystems. The biodiversity crisis has become one of the biggest problems in the last century. It has gotten so bad that scientists believe we are now living through a global extinction event. Since the first Earth Day in 1970, 69% of all wildlife—that's all mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish—have been lost. It’s high time we did something about it. 

How can I support Earth Day 2024?

There are a number of ways you can get involved in Earth Day 2024 and its goal of reducing plastic waste and raising awareness. Here are some impactful ways to support Earth Day.

  1. Sign the Global Plastics Treaty: This petition is an opportunity for the United Nations and Governmental Organizations to take action and limit plastic production.   
  2. Check for actions near you! The Earth Day website has a map which lists thousands of activities, clean-ups, protects, and other events. Find one near you!
  3. Reject fast fashion (and buy less stuff in general): Fast fashion is responsible for enormous amounts of waste, exploitation, and overconsumption. Why not buy second-hand or buy clothes that last!
  4. Join Planet Wild! Consider becoming a Planet Wild member or gifting a membership. Your money will go directly to grassroots projects around the world that clean up ocean plastic, rewild forests, and support endangered animals. It’s community driven and 100% waste-free!
There are a number of ways you can get involved with Earth Day—including joining Planet Wild!

If you can’t support Planet Wild financially, don’t worry! Here are some ways you can help us get the word out about what we do.

  • Share our YouTube videos: Every month we go on a mission to save the planet alongside grassroots organizations already doing incredible things on the ground. Everything we do is shared on YouTube!
  • Follow us on Instagram: We post educational content, reels, and lots of behind the scenes material every day!
  • Sign-up: You don’t have to be a paying member to be part of Planet Wild. Sign up now to join our community, get the latest updates, and 
  • Refer a friend: Refer a friend through the Planet Wild app and we will plant 6 extra trees as part of our Senegal Forest mission! 3 for you, and 3 for your friend! 

Our planet needs as much help as it can get, and it’s initiatives like Earth Day that are driving awareness, education, and advocacy. Earth Day aims to inspire people to become stewards of the environment and work together towards a healthier, more sustainable future for all living things.

A bison wearing sunglasses

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