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Why is Earth Day on April 22nd?

Earth Day has been celebrated for over 50 years in the United States — and it has an extensive list of accomplishments to show for it.

WASHINGTON, USA — According to a recent study by WalletHub, Washington is one of the top ten greenest states in the country. 

The study was published on April 12, ten days before Earth Day which is observed on April 22 every year.

Over the years, the celebration of Earth Day has accomplished more than planting trees. Earth Day has been celebrated for over 50 years in the United States — and it has an extensive list of accomplishments to show for it. 

In 1970, Gaylord Nelson, a junior senator from Wisconsin, wanted to bring attention to the environmental movement that was being in the country. Inspired by college anti-war protests, he enlisted the help of Harvard graduate student Denis Hayes, to help organize campus teach-ins. 

The date was set for April 22, after colleges’ spring breaks but before final exams. The event quickly out-grew its college campus ambitions, so Nelson and Hayes turned it into a nationwide affair. 

On the first-ever Earth Day, over 20 million Americans took part in celebrations. In New York, over 100,000 people show up at Union Square.

In an essay published by the EPA Journal in 1980, Nelson wrote about the first Earth Day, “It was on that day that Americans made it clear that they understood and were deeply concerned over the deterioration of our environment and the mindless dissipation of our resources.”

“That day left a permanent impact on the politics of America,” wrote Nelson. “It forcibly thrust the issue of environmental quality and resources conservation into the political dialogue of the Nation.” 

Due to the show of support from the American people, and the advocating of Nelson and others, Congress created the United States Environmental Protection Agency in December 1970. Other legislation soon followed, including an update to the Clean Air Act in 1970, the Clean Water Act in 1971, and the Endangered Species Act in 1973. 

By 1990, Earth Day was celebrated in 141 countries. 

Earth Day continues to have impacts on legislation — with the launch of The Canopy Project and A Billion Acts of Green happening on April 22, 2010. 

Today, 190 countries observe Earth Day every year. National Geographic said that Earth Day has a mission that "is founded on the premise that all people, regardless of race, gender, income, or geography, have a moral right to a healthy, sustainable environment.”

This year, there are numerous celebrations and activities taking place around western Washington to help everyone participate in the day.

Tacoma Nature Center is hosting an Earth Day Extravaganza. Earth Day trail cleanups are being hosted in Snohomish and Maple Valley. A 5k, 10k, and half marathon is happening at Green Lake Park.

Seattle Public Schools posted an Earth Day tips release to its website to help students and families make every day Earth Day.

WATCH: KING 5's Tipping Point playlist on YouTube

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