World Environment Day urges all of us to protect our natural surroundings. The stunning facts? An estimated 7 million people die each year from causes related to air pollution, with a majority occurring in the Asia-Pacific region. This day, which falls on June 5, encourages worldwide activism. That means everything from littering to climate change. World Environment Day is both a global celebration and a platform for public outreach.
China, which now owns half the world’s electric vehicles and 99 percent of the world’s electric buses, hosted the 2019 event. “The country has demonstrated tremendous leadership in tackling air pollution domestically,” said Acting Head of UN Environment Joyce Msuya. “It can now help spur the world to greater action.” The UN first established World Environment Day in 1972.
History of World Environment Day
World Environment Day (WED) is one of the more unique and special holidays because of its history and its many firsts. It was created on the first day of the first-ever UN conference which focused on humans and how they interact with the environment.
However, this didn’t happen overnight. Sweden first suggested having such a conference to the UN way back in 1968. And in 1969, the UN agreed that after 3 years they would have a conference in Sweden that focused on environmental issues. Interestingly enough, the conference was led by Maurice Strong, a Canadian diplomat who worked in the oil and mineral industry, who also had a soft spot for the environment.
Finally, it all came together in 1972, after 4 years of preparations and $30,000,000 later. World leaders from around the world sat together to discuss how they can raise awareness to protect our environment — and it was then WED was made. Then 2 years later, the first-ever WED was celebrated with the slogan “Only One Earth.”
Ever since then, WED has been completely embraced by people everywhere, so much so that it’s even slowly creeping into pop culture (and we love it!) Celebrities around the world all encourage people, in their own unique way, to do their part and “ save the world”. Fan-favorites Leonardo DiCaprio and Meryl Streep are some of the many who constantly speak out about environmental awareness. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re a famous actor, an athlete or a student in college: gather your friends and spend a day outdoors doing fun activities towards preserving this beautiful planet. Believe us when we say, you’ll have a blast and feel so much better afterward.
World Environment Day timeline
China hosts World Environment Day
China raised awareness of the 7 million people who die annually from air pollution with the slogan “Beat Air Pollution”.
A dream debut for World Environment Day.
The first World Environment Day is celebrated in Spokane, Washington.
First UN Conference based only on the environment.
Maurice Strong finally led the discussions about marine pollution, human overpopulation, and global warming.
The idea is born
Sweden suggests to the UN to have a conference that is focused on the environment.
World Environment Day FAQs
Is global warming real?
From the data gathered it seems so, and according to NASA, the debate is now moving from if humans are responsible for global warming to how is the best way to respond to the problem.
What fun activity can you do on World Environment Day?
Either by yourself or with a group of your friends or even family members, plant a sapling (young tree) and take a selfie with it. Don’t forget to post it on your social media with #SelfiewithSapling.
How often is World Environment Day celebrated?
Every year on June 5 World Environment Day is celebrated. The cool thing is, almost every year a new country hosts the holiday and since it was first celebrated 34 different cities in 25 countries have hosted this day.
How to Observe World Environment Day
Make a commitment to recycle
It might seem like a basic tip, but are you really taking every possible opportunity to recycle? Next time you're thinking about throwing that piece of paper in the trash because a recycling bin isn't accessible, think twice. Holding a plastic container and too lazy to see if it's one of the biodegradable kinds? Open up your smartphone and look it up! Everyone's responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions — including you.
Plant a tree
Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark. Placed strategically around a single-family home, they can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent. By reducing the energy demand for cooling our houses, we reduce carbon dioxide and other pollution emissions from power plants.
Anyone can volunteer, and volunteering can make a difference to the whole community. Get out of your comfort zone by volunteering for the National Park Service, or stay local by volunteering at your farmers market. Any way you choose to participate, you'll feel the positive impact of getting out of the house and caring for the planet.
5 Interesting Facts About World Environment Day
The largest solar farm, Yanchi Ningxia solar park in China, can provide up to 1 billion watts.
CO2 Vacuum Cleaner
Developed in Switzerland in 2016, giant machines capture CO2 to clean the air we breathe.
The Ocean Cleanup
Backed with $30 million and led by a 22-year-old, this company uses U-shaped screens to catch garbage in the ocean.
Created by an Indonesian company, it’s made from agricultural leftovers like corn, sugarcane, etc.
Developed in the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden using upgraded aluminum.
Why World Environment Day is Important
It reconnects us to nature
Sometimes we forget just how much natural systems support our own well-being. But we're part of nature, and we depend on it. So today's the perfect occasion to go out and enjoy your country's national parks, and celebrate the vital relationship.
It raises awareness
More and more people are starting to understand that we need to sustainably manage our planet's resources and ecosystems. However, that belief is far from universal. That's why World Environment Day is so important: it provides an occasion to raise awareness and teach friends and family that the physical environment is fragile and indispensable. But before you begin promoting environmental awareness in your own community, make sure that you have a thorough understanding of environmental issues yourself. There's always more to learn!
It encourages us to take action
The environment has become increasingly polluted with contaminants and toxins, and these have a harmful impact on our health. They can cause respiratory diseases and cancer—and that's just for starters. By raising awareness of the issues with the air that sustains us, World Environment Day inspires us to do something about it and fix the environment we can't live without.