Allison Cook

Make a Difference in the World at Home

Throughout the year, we honor the wildlife and ecosystems with which we share this world. Earth Day is a special time when we all come together to celebrate the value of nature and acknowledge the critical importance of the biodiversity of our planet.

Earth Day Logo 2024 _ Earth Day Blog 2024

When is Earth Day 2024?

Earth Day 2024 is Monday, April 22nd. In fact, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd every year! 

When was the first Earth Day?

The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970. The 1960s in the U.S. were marked by an increased awareness of human-caused harm of the environment. Factories released pillars of black smoke into the air. Chemicals were dumped into rivers. People began calling out these atrocities, but the planet needed more support.

Senator Gaylord Nelson, D-Wisc., held a national demonstration on what became the first Earth Day to urge the federal government to take stronger measures to protect the environment. That first Earth Day became the catalyst of the modern environmental movement. It led to the creation of bedrock conservation laws including the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act.

2023.01.05- Right Whale Swimming with Calf-FWC-CC BY NC ND 2.0
Image Credit

What is Earth Day? Why do we celebrate Earth Day?

Earth Day is a day to raise awareness for the environment, to advocate on behalf of nature, and to learn from and educate one another on how to protect our planet. 54 years after the first Earth Day, we still celebrate annually because we all want future generations to experience a beautiful planet teeming with life.

When is Earth Week? Is April Earth Month?

Let’s be honest: every day is the Earth’s day! The idea behind dedicating a specific day is to increase awareness and foster a community of supporters for our environment. In fact, over time, Earth Day has expanded to Earth Week and even Earth Month, to allow for more time to learn and partake in events celebrating our planet. 

2024.03.22 - Planting at the Shade Your Stream Event - Emily Moreno/FernLeaf Community Charter School
Image Credit
Emily Moreno/FernLeaf Community Charter School

How to Celebrate Earth Day

Now knowing Earth Day’s history, you may be wondering, “How do I celebrate these Earthly days?” There are hundreds of ways to honor Mother Earth, especially during April, so it’s important to find Earth Day activities that work best for you. And don’t forget to invite friends and family to join in too! 

Check out our top five suggestions on how you can make a difference in our world:

1. Educate Others 

At its core, Earth Day is about raising awareness. Share factual information about pollution, poaching and climate change across your social media platforms, and encourage simple actions to combat them. For example, many sea animals are killed because they are caught in fishing gear, known as bycatch. Research where your seafood comes from and only buy from brands that use sustainable fishing techniques.

Help teach the next generation about the importance of caring for Mother Earth. Visit a local park or refuge, or just step into your backyard with younger family members or students. Discuss what you all love about nature and the environment and build on that foundation. To learn more about animals they liked or saw, go online or find a related age-appropriate book you can read aloud with them.

2. Attend a Local Event

Plan a group cleanup in your neighborhood or find one by checking out your community social media platforms. Defenders of Wildlife staff is also hosting events throughout April. For example, New Mexico Representative Peggy Darr is giving a presentation in Santa Fe about how private landowners can help Pinyon Jays.

pinyon Jay
Image Credit
Christina Selby

Planning your own event is as easy as gathering friends or family to clean up trash or promote healthy ecosystems by gardening! Animals can trap themselves in plastic rings or bags, ingest garbage thinking its food or become trapped in fishing gear. Removing trash from your community will help prevent plastics and other litter from entering our waterways and oceans. Birdbaths, feeders, bee houses, nest boxes or bat houses provide shelter, food and water for migrating or residential wildlife. Planting native trees, bushes and flowers can also provide natural sources for nesting, perching and protection. Remember to avoid using pesticides.

3. Get Outside and Take Some Earth Day Pictures

You can go almost anywhere outside to celebrate the natural environment. From national wildlife refuges to local parks and city greenspaces, nature is everywhere if you’re willing to look. Use this April springtime day to get outside, pause, and reflect: what native plants can you see or smell? What species might depend on those plants? Take some time to watch or listen to the wildlife for a glimpse into their world. If you’re quick enough, you may be able to snap a photo of what you see. And remember: view wildlife from a safe distance, take only photos and memories, and leave only footprints. 

2018.07.26 - Monarch Butterfly - Shenandoah National Park - Virginia - N.Lewis - NPS
Image Credit

If you take photos, share those Earth Day images for others to enjoy and to show is most important to you.

4. Hop into one of these Earth Day Books

If you can’t get out and enjoy Mother Nature this Earth Day, but still want to immerse yourself in Earth Day celebration, try one of these Earth Day books. Here are some of Defenders' top staff picks:

Earth Day books for adults:

  • Beloved Beasts by Michelle Nijhuis 
    • “It's an incredible history of the modern conservation movement, from early battles to save charismatic species like the bison to today's global efforts to protect biodiversity as a whole. This book became a quick favorite and I'd say it's a must-read for conservation-minded folks.” - Cassie Ferri, Legislative Analyst
  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
    • “This is one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read. The novel dives into rich traditional ecological knowledge and challenges the reader’s understanding of modern conservation.” - Kaitie Schneider, Rockies and Plains Representative
  • Hope for Animals and their World by Jane Goodall
  • An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us by Ed Young
  • Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
    • “It’s sad but a very interesting read about the disconnect between nature and kids growing up in this very technology-focused age, what he calls ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder.’” - Pamela Flick, California Program Director

Earth Day books for kids:

  • Lemon and Cedar by Christel Dyer
  • Ranger Rick’s Zoobooks
  • A Search for Safe Passage by Frances Figart
    • “A great book introducing kids to road ecology and protecting wildlife. It's set in a Safe Passage project area, which Defenders plays a lead role in!” - Tracy Davids, Senior Southeast Representative

You can also get creative with your kids with Bordercats by Patricia Manzano. This activity booklet about ocelots is translated in English and Spanish! 

2020.12.05 - OF343 ocelot walking in front of fence - Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge - Texas - Hilary Swarts-FWS.
Image Credit
Hilary Swarts/FWS

5. Visit Defenders Earth Day Hub for More Fun!

If you’re craving more inspiration, check out Defenders’ Earth Day hub. We have cumulated Earth Day crafts, Earth Day pictures, Earth Day memes and you can even test your knowledge with an Earth Day quiz! Wondering how many days until Earth Day? Check out our countdown clock!

Don’t forget, Earth Day is celebrated across the country. No matter where you are, what language you speak or how you celebrate it is your Earth Day (or Dia de la Teirra, in Spanish). Thank you for joining us in protecting wildlife and wild places that call this planet home. From all of us at Defenders, ¡Feliz día de la Tierra! Happy Earth Day!


A Cook Headshot

Allison Cook

Content Writer

Areas of Expertise: Communications, writing for the blog and website

Allison joined Defenders of Wildlife in 2023 after working for Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation


Wildlife & Wild Places

Lesser Long-Nosed Bat
Pinyon Jay

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