15 Earth Day Facts You Probably Never Knew

Earth Day is a global movement that mobilizes billions of people annually to protect the planet and fight for a brighter future.

Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22 to raise awareness about environmental issues and the importance of protecting our planet's natural resources.

However you choose to honor it, Earth Day is a great way to jumpstart a lifetime of taking better care of our planet.

Join us as we explore the fascinating world of Earth Day!


It was started in 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, after he noticed people protesting the Vietnam War, but not putting any pressure on government about the damage being done to the planet via contaminants like oil spills, pesticides, and deadly smog.

Julian Koenig, an advertising writer, was the one who came up with the name Earth Day. However, other names for the awareness day were suggested, like Ecology Day, Environment Day, and E Day.

April 22 was chosen as the date to celebrate Earth Day as it fell between the students' spring break and final exams. This resulted in more students participating in the awareness day.

20 million Americans celebrated the first Earth Day in 1970.
20 million Americans participated which was 10% of the U.S. population at that time.
It has since grown, and has been celebrated in more than 192 countries by over one billion civic-minded supporters.

Denis Hayes organized the first global Earth Day in 1990. 200 million people across 141 different countries participated in the first global Earth Day.

Other countries know it as "International Mother Earth Day." That's the name it was given by the United Nations in 2009. But in U.S., we still call it Earth Day.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was approved by President Richard Nixon in 1970 as a result of the Earth Day movement.
Legislation on clean air, clean water, toxic substances, and endangered species were passed, too.

The Earth Day Anthem was written in 2013 by Indian poet Abhay Kumar, and has since been recorded in all official UN languages.

People of all ages can march, plant trees, clean up their communities, and reduce waste in their own homes with smart Earth Day tips.

Each year, the Earth Day theme changes.
In 1990, the spotlight was on global mobilization of environmental issues with a strong focus on recycling.
In 2000 it was about global warming and clean energy.
2010 marked the world's largest environmental service project—A Billion Acts of Green—as well as a 250,000 person climate change rally in Washington, D.C.
The theme for Earth Day 2021 is Restore Our Earth, which is intended to be a reminder that while we want to protect our planet, we all also need a healthy Earth to support our lives, health, and survival.
The theme for Earth Day 2024 is Planet vs. Plastics, a commitment to call for the end of plastics "for the sake of human and planetary health."

This global movement has inspired real change.
On Earth Day 2011, 28 million trees were planted in Afghanistan for a "Plant Trees Not Bombs" campaign.
Palmer Station, a research station in Antarctica, commemorated Earth Day in 2007 by doing an underwater cleanup of all the trash left behind by early Antarctic expeditions.
In 2012, more than 100,000 people in China rode their bikes in order to reduce CO2 emissions and highlight the amount of pollution created by cars.

Lack of environmental education affects over 3 billion students across the globe.
In 2020, EarthDay.org launched the Climate Literacy campaign which encourages governments to make climate literacy part of school curriculum throughout the world. Currently, over 300 million people and 400 organizations are in support of this campaign.

Planet Earth was part of the early days of the solar system formation and is estimated to be 4.54 billion years old. The very beginning of the solar system formation was nearly 4.6 billion years ago.

Related: 30 Interesting Facts About Earth

Nearly 350 million pounds of ocean plastics has been collected since 1986.
The Ocean Conservancy organization is actively working to solve the plastic pollution crisis in our ocean. Today, nearly 200 million tons of plastics circulate in our ocean. Celebrate Earth Day by volunteering in an ocean clean up event. So far, Ocean Conservancy has had over 17 million volunteers since 1986.

The Earth Day flag was created in 1970 by peace activist, John McConnell. It was used at the first Earth Day in 1970 and represents a photo of Earth taken by the flight crew of the Apollo 10 mission in 1969. This flag is still seen today at Earth Day celebrations around the world.

Earth Day / Real Simple