Earth Day 2018: It’s Our Turn to Lead  

This year marks the 48th Earth Day. But how did it all begin? 

Updated
World
3 min read
(Photo: Reuters)

Happy Earth Day! Can you believe that this annual celebration, commemorated on 22 April, is 48 years old? Earth Day is an event so global, that it has been described as “the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year”.

How Did It All Begin?

The brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, a former US Senator, Earth Day began as a way of raising environmental consciousness in the United States after the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. These were the early years of the environmental movement – Rachel Carson’s book The Silent Spring had been published to critical acclaim in 1962 and the Stockholm Conference with its environmental Declaration was only two years away.

Earth Day was meant to capture the zeitgeist of the times and the founders hoped to begin a public conversation about the environment.
Earth Day was meant to capture the zeitgeist of the times. (Photo: iStockphoto)
Earth Day was meant to capture the zeitgeist of the times. (Photo: iStockphoto)

Why Should We Care?

Earth Day may be only one of a group of designated environment related days – but frankly, every day should ideally be one where we’re thinking about our environmental footprint. And days like this can be a good time to sit back, take stock, and pitch in where we can.

At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, it’s a sobering reflection that scientists reckon that we’re living through the “Sixth Extinction” which is about as Armageddon-esque as it sounds – the last one was responsible for wiping out T-Rex and his pals and reducing the earth’s biodiversity by around three-fourths.

If anything, the headlines in India should be a wake-up call. Efforts to green the environment are an ongoing effort and as Delhi’s experience with air pollution amply illustrates, it doesn’t take long for inaction to reverse hard won gains.



If we don’t start making major changes, we may be wiped out. (Photo: iStockphoto)
If we don’t start making major changes, we may be wiped out. (Photo: iStockphoto)

Alright, We’re in! How Can We Participate?

In lots of ways! Whether you want to celebrate it as a day, week or month, you could participate in a personal capacity by finally installing a solar panel on the roof, volunteering, committing to recycling, taking public transport and reducing plastic use.

On a larger scale, you could participate in the Earth Day India Initiative, the Earth Day Network’s Billion Acts of Green, push your organisation to contribute to environmental sustainability and conservation initiatives as part of its CSR programme or even organise a community event.

A worker  moves through a pile of empty plastic bottles at a recycling workshop in Goa. (Photo: Reuters)
A worker moves through a pile of empty plastic bottles at a recycling workshop in Goa. (Photo: Reuters)

(This story was first published on 22 April 2016. It is being reposted from The Quint’s archives on the occasion of Earth Day.)

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