12 Fascinating Earth Day Facts and History

April 22 is Earth Day, a chance to take a moment from your busy schedule and appreciate the amazing life this planet provides. While you may be aware of this day, you might not know much about it or how it originated. Keep reading to discover 12 fascinating Earth Day facts and the history surrounding this holiday. 

12 Earth Day Facts 

1 – Earth Day originated in the United States: The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. By 1990, Earth Day became recognized as a worldwide holiday. 

2 – Earth Day has its own theme song: Indian poet Abhay Kumar wrote “Earth Anthem” in 2013. Since then, it’s been recorded in all the official languages of the United Nations. You can listen to the English version here.

3 – Plant Trees Not Bombs on Earth Day 2011: On Earth Day 2011, the Earth Day Network organized the “Plant Trees Not Bombs” campaign, where 28 million trees were planted in Afghanistan.

4 – Bikes across China on Earth Day 2012: On Earth Day 2012, more than 100,000 people in China rode their bikes across the country to minimize C02 emissions and spotlight the amount of pollution produced by cars.

5 – The Earth Day theme changes every year: In the 1990s, Earth Days generally focused on the global mobilization of environmental issues, particularly recycling. The 2000s were mainly geared towards global warming and clean energy. For Earth Day 2021, the theme is Restore Our Earth, which focuses on keeping the planet healthy to support people’s jobs, livelihoods, health, and happiness.

6 – Earth Day is also known as International Mother Earth Day: In 2009, the United Nations officially changed the name to International Mother Earth Day. But here in the United States, we still refer to it as Earth Day.

7 – Earth Day helped create the EPA: In 1970, the same year Earth Day was established, President Richard Nixon approved the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Nixon also helped pass legislation on clean water and air, toxic substances, and endangered species.

8 – Equinox Day and Earth Day are two different things: Equinox Day is held on the first day of spring and revolves around the idea of taking care of the environment. March 20 is the usual date for Equinox Day, but it can fluctuate depending on the calendar year.

9 – The Paris Agreement was signed on Earth Day: The United Nations chose Earth Day 2016 to sign the Paris Agreement — the most significant global accord in history to combat climate change. 

10 – Some communities commemorate Earth Day for the whole week: Many schools and communities celebrate Earth Day for an entire week — aka Earth Week. See if your local community or child’s school is taking part in this week-long celebration.

Local elementary school kids visiting POLYWOOD's in-house recycling center
Local elementary school kids visiting POLYWOOD’s in-house recycling center

11 – Temperatures have risen since the first Earth Day: Since the inaugural Earth Day in 1970, the average annual temperature in the continental U.S. has been rising at a rate of 0.45°F per decade.

12 – 100 million people worldwide observed the 50th anniversary: April 20, 2020, marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and 100 million people across 192 countries took part in the multi-platform event.

Earth Day History

Gaylord Nelson, a junior senator from Wisconsin, founded Earth Day. He believed that people weren’t paying enough attention to environmental damage being done — e.g. oil spills, deadly smog, pesticides, etc. Looking at the Vietnam War protests for inspiration, Nelson wanted to figure out a way to bring that same passion and energy to the environment and put pressure on the government to take action. After years of planning and preparation, it eventually happened.

The first Earth Day occurred on April 22, 1970. This date was strategically chosen to cater to college students since they were politically active during this era. Nelson hoped that picking a date that fell between spring break and final exams would attract a lot of people — and it did. Over 20 million people participated in the very first Earth Day, and it’s only grown since then. Today, Earth Day is celebrated in at least 193 countries around the world.

Why is Earth Day Important?

Why do we celebrate Earth Day? We celebrate this day to bring attention to the world’s environmental problems. It gives everyone a chance to learn ways in which we can take care of this planet. Just like we need exercise and a well-balanced diet to take care of our bodies, we need to do things like recycle and use less non-renewable resources to help keep our world healthy. Earth is the only known planet to support life and to continue to live our lives, we need to treat our home with respect. 


Earth Day is a great opportunity to give back to your home planet. Consider setting up a fun, environmentally friendly outing with your family where you can pick up litter at your local park or create crafts out of recycled materials. 

Check out the POLYWOOD blog for more related articles and learn more about how POLYWOOD takes care of the earth by making lumber out of recycled plastic.

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