The first day of spring has come and gone, and while many local Indianapolis residents are already rushing for the month of May to get here (for those of you unaware, some call it “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing“), let’s slow things down and enjoy April while it’s here. Earth Day 2017 is fast-approaching, and there is a lot to learn, and do, to celebrate the day!

History of Earth Day

Gaylord Nelson (Earth Day founder) with William K. Reilly, Earth Day 1990. Source:

Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. After he witnessed the catastrophic 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, he came up with the idea of a national day to focus on the environment.  Senator Nelson then announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media. On his team, he recruited Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair, and Denis Hayes from Harvard as national coordinator.

To put things into perspective, before 1970, the EPA did not even exist. There was no Clean Air Act or Clean Water Act. The U.S. had no legal means to protect the environment. In an effort to urge a national agenda, Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Twenty million Americans in many U.S. cities participated making the message clear. Later that year, the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was approved by Congress.

Earth Day 2017

Fast forward to 2017, Earth Day is still an overlooked day, but things seem to get better each year. In just 3 years, the year 2020 will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Since 2016, has launched “a series of bold, thematic initiatives to galvanize unparalleled global collaboration.” These movements are setting goals to protect the earth from new challenges faced in the 21st century. This year’s goal is to achieve global climate and environmental literacy by Earth Day 2020 with education as the foundation for progress. On a local level, there is so much we can do. With just over a week until Earth Day 2017, be sure to check out this list of Indy events (many are FREE!) and mark your calendar now!

  1. Earth Day Indiana Festival
    Military Park
    Saturday, April 22, 2017
    11 a.m.—4 p.m.
  2. Earth Day Indiana Recycle Run
    White River State Park
    Saturday, April 22, 2017
    12 p.m.
  3. March for Science Indianapolis
    Indiana Statehouse
    Saturday, April 22, 2017
    10 a.m.
  4. Earth Day & Great Indy Cleanup
    Monon Trail and 86th Street
    Saturday, April 22-Sunday, April 23, 2017
    9 a.m.—1 p.m.
  5. Earth Day Community Celebration
    Jewish Community Center
    Sunday, April 23, 2017
    1 p.m.—4 p.m.

Not able to attend an event? You can always donate to Earth Day Network hereWith a mission to broaden and diversify the environmental movement worldwide and to mobilize it as the most effective vehicle to build a healthy, sustainable environment, address climate change, and protect the Earth for future generations.

Which Indianapolis Earth Day events did I miss? Let me know and I’ll add it to my list!

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