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Close to 48 years ago, on 22 April 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development.
In the US and around the world, smog was becoming deadly and evidence was growing that pollution led to developmental delays in children. Biodiversity was in decline as a result of the heavy use of pesticides and other pollutants.
The global ecological awareness was growing, and the US Congress and President Nixon responded quickly. In July of the same year, they created the Environmental Protection Agency, and robust environmental laws such as the Clear Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, among many.
Earth Day is now a global event each year, and we believe that more than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.
It is a day of political action and civic participation. People march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees, clean up their towns and roads. Corporations and governments use it to make pledges and announce sustainability measures. Faith leaders, including Pope Francis, connect Earth Day with protecting God’s greatest creations, humans, biodiversity and the planet that we all live on.
In the lead up to Earth Day’s 50th anniversary in 2020, Earth Day Network launched a campaign to End Plastic Pollution.
Plastic pollution is real and growing threat to our planet that rivals climate change. From injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, plastic pollution is having a devastating impact. The good news is we can solve this problem. Citizens can play an activist role in demanding action to end plastic pollution.
That’s why Earth Day Network’s End Plastic Pollution campaign is working on educating and mobilizing citizens, and influencing governments and corporations to achieve large-scale reductions in plastic pollution around the world. Our intention is to have Earth Day 2018 mark the first step toward the ultimate goal of replacing fossil fuel based plastics with nonpolluting materials.
Plastic pollution is not just an environmental crisis, but also as one of the most urgent public health, human rights and social justice issues of our day. The campaign will build solidarity among all people of the world, and promote solutions that hold producers and leaders accountable. The campaign will use Earth Day 2018 as the focal point for raising awareness, and changing attitudes and behaviors that will contribute to reducing and eliminating plastic pollution.
The End Plastic Pollution campaign will include these key components:
The End Plastic Pollution campaign is part of a five-year effort that began in 2016, builds up to the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020 and continues for the next decade.
Forty-seven years after the first Earth Day, the jury is still out on whether we will take the actions that are necessary to save ourselves.
Education and action are the two most valuable steps we can take to protect our planet. Earth Day is the day to start.
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