(ABC4) – Earth Day is coming up on Thursday, April 22. But what is the significance behind this holiday?

On April 22, 1970, about 20 million people across the country joined in celebrating the very first Earth Day.

Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wis.) called for students to fight for environmental protection with the same amount of enthusiasm and zeal that they had exercised in opposing the Vietnam War in the 1960s, hoping to gain the attention of lawmakers to do more to protect the environment.

And it worked.

Later that year, the Environmental Protection Agency was formed after the public demanded cleaner air, water, and land. Earth Day started the United States on the road to the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and large environmental movements.

The very first Earth Day was celebrated by Americans of all ages in local towns and communities. Musicians performed songs about caring for the environment, and celebrities spoke on issues like the importance of recycling. Since then, Earth Day has evolved to being celebrated on a worldwide scale.

“It has helped Americans, and others the world over, realize that they are stewards of the Earth, and they can and should do something to protect the environment,” the Department of State says.

In 1990, Earth Day celebrations extended to 200 million people in 141 countries.

Information in this article was found on epa.gov, loc.gov, and americaslibrary.gov.

With a drought affecting the Western part of the country, here are ten simple ways to conserve water this Earth Day:

  • Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth
  • Fix leaky faucets
  • Only run a fully loaded dishwasher or wash a full load of laundry
  • Take a shorter shower
  • Consider installing a water-saving shower head
  • Use a broom to clean your driveway instead of hosing it down
  • Find a use for water instead of pouring it down the drain
  • Try drought tolerant landscaping in your yard
  • Keep drinking water in the fridge so you don’t have to leave the tap running for it to get cool
  • Don’t flush garbage down the toilet- this wastes gallons of water