Abigail Yarrison ’24, Editor in Chief

That inconspicuous day, April 22nd, is one of the most widely celebrated secular holidays of the year. More than one billion people participate in Earth Day whether that be through donations to environmental groups, planting trees, cleaning up parks and beaches, or educating neighbors on environmental concerns. Even though this holiday has only been around for 50 years, it has already had a huge impact all over the world.

The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. Before this, people had little concern or knowledge of what industrialism was doing to the earth. There were some groups advocating and rallying, as well as in 1962 Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring which brought some awareness to the plight. Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin was an advocate for environmental protection. He observed the passion of college students over anti-war protests and wanted to funnel that passion into the environment. He suggested the idea of a teach-in on college campuses on April 22nd, but after Senator Nelson’s staff expanded nationally, the idea of Earth Day across the country it became much more than that. 20 million Americans rallied together to fight against oil spills, factory pollution, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, deforestation, and the extinction of wildlife.

Not only did Earth Day unite Americans under one goal, it also led major laws being passed in 1970 like the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act. Two years later in 1972 the Clean Water Act was passed, and in 1973 the Endangered Species Act was passed. The greatest achievement came when Nelson’s idea when global. 200 million people in 141 countries joined the cause on April 22nd 1990. In 1995, Senator Nelson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton.

Senator Nelson, Source: spokesman.com

Earth Day is underrated; it too often flies under the radar. This year, take action. Research an environmental problem that interests you, join in a clean-up at a local park or stream, or buy yourself a reusable water bottle. There are many things you can do to help keep our planet clean. Immaculata University is hosting Earth Week! Some events being hosted by our clubs include planting sunflowers for Ukraine (hosted by the commuter council), gardening at the campus greenhouse to donate food to the local food bank (hosted by CRS Ambassadors), decorating reusable travel bottles (hosted by us, the Immaculatan Newspaper), and more! Look on the IU app to see what is happening. 

Keep in mind that we’re not just saving the planet for ourselves, there are millions of other species who live on Earth too. We must be stewards of planet Earth, carrying on Senator Nelson’s legacy.