By Laura Turner Seydel

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans celebrated the first Earth Day, marking the beginning of the modern environmental movement. The brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson, the first Earth Day was a grassroots effort to bring environmentally conscious groups from across the country together – whether fighting against oil spills, extinction of wildlife or polluting factories – and unify their protests against the deterioration of the environment.

The first Earth Day was such a success that one of the original coordinators, Dennis Hayes, began the Earth Day Network (EDN) to create a platform for environmental issues and continue spreading its influence through year-round events, including the annual Earth Day celebrations. Since its conception the network reaches over 19,000 organizations in 192 countries and engages 10,000 groups and over 100,000 educators, all committed to environmental protection.

This year, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the EDN observes the milestone with many global initiatives including a Global Day of Conservation with mayors worldwide, the Athletes for the Earth Campaign to bring together Olympic athletes against climate change, the Billion Acts of Green Campaign and the Artists for the Earth campaign, which calls to action art institutions and artists to create environmental awareness. This year alone, the EDN expects over 1 billion people to participate in this year’s Earth Day celebration, events and programs.

Locally there are many ways for you to get involved and celebrate Earth Day. From Earth Day Kids Fest at the Chattahoochee Nature Center (captainplanetfoundation.org) to EarthShare of Georgia’s Earth Day Party on the Land at Opera night club (earthsharega.org), the month of April is full of parties and events to celebrate our precious planet.

As we toast to Earth Day and its 40th birthday, remember the foundation on which the movement was founded.  Remember that it’s the little things you do each and every day and through the collective effort that we can continue to build awareness for the betterment of our precious planet.  This year, on April 22, pledge to personally take on one new environmental initiative, no matter how big or small, and share your pledge with a friend. Perhaps you’ll inspire them to make a positive change, too.

For more information about how you can go green this Earth Day, visit: www.lauraseydel.com.