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Earth Day Thursday, April 22

Earth Day is an annual event where communities work together to help protect the Earth and show their support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is recognized by more than 193 countries and now includes events that are coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network. 

Overview of the History of Earth Day

In the past, especially during the Industrial Revolution, Americans viewed air pollution as a sign of success. Factories were pumping out heaps of smoke and other harmful chemicals as America became more industrialized. Oblivious to the harmful effects of carbon dioxide, little precaution was taken when it came to environmental safety. 

In 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson witnessed, along with the rest of the country, the devastatingly massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. As a way to teach the community about these dire environmental crises, Nelson started a day for college campuses to teach about environmental consciousness, which soon turned into an annual event. 

Denis Hayes, a young activist hired to conduct and organize the April 22nd college teach-ins, built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land. The effort soon broadened to include a wide range of organizations, faith groups, and others. They changed the name to Earth Day, which immediately sparked national media attention, and caught on across the country.  Earth Day inspired 20 million Americans — at the time, 10% of the total population of the United States — to take to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate against the impacts of 150 years of industrial development which had left a growing legacy of serious human health impacts.

In the 1990s, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. 

Last year marked 50 years of Earth Day celebrations.

More about Earth Day’s history, here.

Why Celebrate Earth Day?

Since its beginnings, Earth Day has revolutionized the way we look at environmental and wildlife safety when it comes to human impact. Each year, this day helps promote sustainable living, healthy habitats, and a cleaner earth. This environmental awareness teaches all generations the positive impact they can have on their communities. Use this day to educate yourself, others around you, and help keep your community clean!

Ways You Can Participate

  • Recycle: Recycling is a small task that can have a big impact. This is a great start to reducing your carbon footprint–which is the total amount of greenhouse gases that are generated by our actions. 
  • Try calculating your annual carbon footprint here. This can be an eye-opening way to see how you impact the environment around you, as well as highlighting areas that you can work on to reduce your footprint! 
  • Trash Pick Up: Take a walk around your neighborhood or local park and clean up any trash. This is a great way to help our wildlife and make your community more enjoyable. This is also a fun and educational way to have children participate. 
  • Plant a Tree: Planting a tree is an interactive way to give back to your environment as well as teaching children the importance trees play in our ecosystem. 
  • Evaluate Your Lifestyle: Take some time to figure out areas in your life that you can improve on to be more eco friendly. This might include: getting a reusable water bottle instead of using disposable ones, taking shorter showers, using reusable ziplock bags, starting a compost bin, using reusable grocery bags, or buying used clothes. 
  • Watch a Documentary: There are a wide range of movies and documentaries about the earth that can help enlighten you, or friends, on the impact humans have on their environment. Here are some suggestions:
    • Our Planet (Netflix)
    • Elephant and Dolphin Reef (Disney+) which comes with a downloadable activity packet, perfect for kids learning from home.
    • Earth to Echo (Library Catalog)
    • Can We Cool the Planet? (Library Catalog)

Read Up: Another great thing you can do from home, is read up one some of the history and science surrounding climate change. Here are some book recommendations: 

Climate Change: Picturing the Science by Gavin Schmidt and Joshua Wolfe
Book | Goodreads

Going beyond the headlines, this work by leading NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt and master photographer Joshua Wolfe illustrates as never before the ramifications of shifting climate. Photographic spreads show retreating glaciers, sinking villages in Alaska’s tundra, and drying lakes. The text follows adventurous scientists through the ice caps at the poles to the coral reefs of the tropical seas.


Climate Action: What Happened and What We Can Do by Seymour Simon
This is the perfect introduction not only to the dramatic effects of climate change, but to the solutions. Learn how our behavior and actions have led us to this point, hear from kids around the world dealing with extreme storms, wildfires, and sea level rise, and discover what scientists, youth activists, and ordinary citizens are doing to protect their communities.

Climate Change: Discover How it Impacts Spaceship Earth by Joshua Sneideman and Erin Twamley
Book | Goodreads
Young readers examine real studies concerning planetary science, Arctic ice bubbles, and migratory patterns. Kids explore the history of human impact from the Industrial Revolution to our modern-day technology, as well as the innovations underway around the world to address global climate change.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Book | eBook | DVD

I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.

Dr. Seuss’s beloved story teaches kids to speak up and stand up for those who can’t. With a recycling-friendly “Go Green” message, The Lorax allows young readers to experience the beauty of the Truffula Trees and the danger of taking our earth for granted, all in a story that is timely, playful and hopeful. The book’s final pages teach us that just one small seed, or one small child, can make a difference.

Lowell Earth Day

Over the years, many disparate Earth Day events took place all over Lowell. In 2015, the community banded together to have 25 partnered activities and events to celebrate Earth Day as a cohesive community. Now, there are over 100 partners that collaborate together to create a broad network of collective programming all over Lowell. 

This month, there are many virtual events that you can take part in to celebrate Lowell Earth Day! Below are some examples of Lowell Earth Day events coming up! Click here to view the full schedule. 

  • Download a bingo card and enjoy this outdoors scavenger hunt courtesy of the Lowell National Parks and Lowell Pars and Conservation Trust.
  • April 27th: “Felled” Virtual Watch Party
    • Felled is a story about finding worth and beauty in something most consider to be trash. The film chronicles the journey of an urban pine tree downed by a summer storm and saved from the landfill by two woodworkers who give the tree new meaning as a family dinner table.


Whatever you decided to do to celebrate Earth Day, know that your decisions can have a huge impact on your community! Happy Earth Day!

This article was written by library intern, Lauren Ordway an English Major at UML. We are sad to say this is the last contribution from Lauren as her semester is wrapping up. We appreciate all your efforts and wish you the best of luck.