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Pitch In to Protect the Planet

There’s plenty of fun ways to celebrate Earth Day! But before we get started, it’s worth taking a quick look at when Earth Day got started.

Earth Day History Lesson

We have Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin to thank for Earth Day’s beginnings. Seeing the engagement and impact of anti-war protests, Senator Nelson sought to harness some of that energy to demand political action against some of the environmental abuses and disasters the United States faced. He planned to motivate change through public action, announcing a nationwide teach-in about the environment.

This led to the first Earth Day celebration in 1970. Rallies and events energized cities, communities, and schools across the country (20 million people at the time), successfully bringing the environmental movement to the forefront of social and political conversations in the U.S.

Earth Day went global in 1990, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries. Ten years later, in 2000, Earth Day expanded once again, as hundreds of millions of people joined together in support of clean energy to tackle the threats of global warming and climate change.

10 Simple Actions to Care for our Planet

Check out these 10 Earth Day ideas to help save the planet any time of year.


Energy vampires are devices left plugged in when you’re not using them and can cost you between $100–$200 each year.

Recycle correctly.

Contamination is recycling’s biggest problem. Know what to throw out and ensure your recyclables are empty, clean, dry and not bagged.

Strike a match.

Lighters are not biodegradable and often end up in the landfill.

Buy reusable bags.

Purchase half a dozen reusable bags to use every time you go to the store. An investment of $6–$10 will save thousands of plastic bags in the long term.

Bring your own mug.

Daily coffee shop visitors generate about 23 pounds each of waste in disposable cups each year.

Replace light bulbs.

LED light bulbs use just 10 percent of the energy incandescent bulbs do. When you replace, be sure to recycle them appropriately.

Use rechargeable batteries.

Generate less waste with reusable batteries.

Bundle shipments.

One-third of the waste in landfills is packing materials. Request multiple items be packaged together for shipping.

Use recycled paper.

The EPA says buying recycled paper helps close the recycling loop.

Buy used.

Search thrift stores and listservs for gently used items. Save 70-90 percent on books, clothing and home decor when you buy secondhand versus new.

For a printable version of these Earth Day ideas, click here.


Find easy-to-implement resources for the classroom at