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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Although humans have been on this planet for thousands of years, it took civilization until 1970 to dedicate a day to celebrating the wonderful place we call home: Earth. The plants, animals, flowers, insects, water, mountains, and rocks that we are fortunate enough to experience are meant to be celebrated every day, not just on Earth Day. However, with April 22 just on the horizon, here is the history behind the holiday and why Earth Day is so important to us. 

The History

The idea for the first Earth Day began with Junior Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin. He was alarmed with the deterioration of the environment as gas automobiles continued to grow in popularity. After a massive oil spill in California in 1969, he realized the severity of the situation and organized college campus teach-ins to spread awareness about the environment. After catching national attention, it was promoted as “Earth Day.” 

According to the Earth Day Organization, the 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.” Also according to this source, the 1970 Earth Day protest continues to hold the record for the “largest secular day of protest in the world.

Why it’s important to me (Peyton)

I will admit, sometimes I do not appreciate the things around me as much as I should. One of these things is the environment. When I am walking to class or driving home from college, I don’t always appreciate the trees, the flowing river, or the chirping birds, but I should. I have had the privilege of traveling to some beautiful places, and I am lucky enough to live in Michigan — a state that has beautiful lakes and forests to explore. When I go to Lake Michigan or to Pictured Rocks in Grand Marais, I am reminded of the complete and utter beauty of nature. These are the times when I most appreciate the Earth; however, I should appreciate it more every single day. 

Earth Day gives me a reason to think about how lucky I am to live on this planet, and I want to try to be more conscientious of what I am doing to affect the environment during my everyday life. Of course I never litter (and I disgrace anyone who does), but I could do a better job of using reusable water bottles and turning off unnecessary lights that are on in my house. Even these small steps can help, and I am going to continue to work on my habits. Earth Day means so much to me because it is a reminder for me, and for everyone, how important our planet is and that we should appreciate it and protect it every day.

Why it’s important to me (Charlotte)

Generation Z knows more than anyone that taking care of the planet is essential to our survival. We were born into a world in which teachers would talk about how rapidly Earth was warming up and how the climate was changing. I remember the first time I learned about climate change was in first grade, and since then, I’ve learned that it’s important to cherish any time we have on this beautiful planet. For me, Earth Day is a reminder to keep advocating for positive change in environmental policy, and to look around and appreciate what we have.

As an adult, the concerns for the environment have only heightened as I’ve spent the past 21 years seeing beautiful places across the globe. My most cherished memories with my family are family vacations where we’d drive down to the south and hike in the Smoky Mountains, or drive out to Lake Michigan and spend a summer day on the beach in our home state. Michigan is a beautiful place and I’ll always hold the memories of visiting the National Parks, such as the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rocks, close to my heart.

After I graduate at the end of April, I am moving out to Denver, Colorado. As a lifelong midwesterner who has spent most of her vacation time driving to numerous places in the midwest and south, making the journey out west is life changing and more exciting than I can express. This Earth Day, I am so grateful that I’ll be moving out to a city in the middle of so much beauty. In the Denver area, everywhere you look has glorious mountains on the horizon. For the next few years I spend in Denver, I’m making a promise to myself (and to Earth) that I will live my life to the fullest, going on as many hiking, camping, and skiing trips as I can muster. I will do my absolute best to enter my granola era, and navigate as many trails and grill as many hot dogs over a fire that I can. Again, I believe that enjoying what we have is essential, because if things keep progressing the way they have been with pollution, things may never quite be the same. I can only hope our generation and those who come after us have the same mindset, and that one day, we can restore our planet back to health.

Earth Day means a lot to the both of us, and we hope this article was informational and inspiring. This Earth Day, we hope you can reflect on your own memories you have on this Earth, and find your own reasons as to why this holiday is important to you. Click this link to see how you can pledge to help the planet. This year, Earth Day is on Monday, April 22, and we hope you can celebrate it by getting outside and appreciating the beautiful world around you!

Charlotte Plotzke (She/Her/Hers) graduated from Michigan State University in April, 2024 with a B.A. in Communication with an additional major in Music. Plotzke served on the executive board as an assistant editor for MSU's Her Campus chapter during the 2023-2024 school year. Plotzke won second place in the "News" category in the 2023 Her Campus Chapter Awards for her article covering a March For Our Lives rally against gun violence in Lansing, MI, which served to honor the victims of the MSU shooting on February 13th, 2023. On top of writing, Plotzke enjoys going to concerts, cooking, singing, traveling, and watching bad reality TV.
Peyton Skiver is a writer, editor, and E-board member of Her Campus at Michigan State University. She writes articles to be published on the Her Campus site and designs content for the HCMSU social media pages. Skiver is a second year student at MSU studying journalism with a minor in sports journalism. Outside of class, she is a reporter for the Spartan Sports Report and a member of the Association of Women in Sports Media (AWSM). Skiver has a passion for photography, writing, and media design. In her free time, she loves to read, listen to music, and binge watch new TV shows.