For Earth Month: Celebrating the History and Achievements of Earth Day & Arbor Day

By the Bronxville Green Committee

April 24, 2023: So often, we hear from younger and older alike in our community that they don’t believe anything they can do to fight climate change will make a significant impact.  Perhaps they’ve forgotten, or never known, the power of collective action.  Learn how Earth Day and Arbor Day began, to gain a new appreciation of how small beginnings grow into powerful movements.

Earth Day: Three Guys and a Few Students Started It All

-In 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson, a democrat, partnered with Senator Pete McCloskey, a republican, and Denis Hayes, a student activist, to hold “teach-ins” across the country about the detrimental effects of industrialization on the environment and human health. The result: the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.

-Twenty million people—an astounding 10% of the U.S. population—participated in marches and rallies on the first Earth Day. From that collective expression of concern for air and water pollution emerged the Clean Air Act (1970), the Clean Water Act (1972), the Endangered Species Act (1973), and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (1970)—all of which continue to help protect our environment fifty years later.

-Today, 190 countries (out of 195 in the world) and one billion people (out of 8-9 billion on the planet) participate in Earth Day.

-Earth Day is ALWAYS held on April 22, which was chosen because it fell midway between spring break and end-of-year finals—so that lots of energetic, passionate college students, who had led impactful anti-Vietnam war protests, could spear-head the movement.

-Learn more at the official Earth Day

Arbor Day: Inspired by Nebraska’s Treeless Landscape

-The first settlers of Nebraska’s flat, windswept, treeless prairie missed the trees back home. As they broke the tough grass sod for farming, they needed trees to hold the soil and act as wind breaks, for fuel and building materials, and to shade them from the hot sun.

-Secretary of the Nebraska Territory J Sterling Morton proposed to the Nebraska Board of Agriculture that a special day be set aside to plant trees. On the first Arbor Day, on April 10, 1872, it’s estimated that Nebraskans planted one million trees!  Now, all 50 states celebrate Arbor Day.

-Although in the U.S. National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April, areas of the country choose dates throughout the year that coincide with the best time to plant trees in their local region.

-Our national tree is the oak.

-Bronxville is one of 3400 communities designated as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation and has an impressive tree canopy with trees dating back hundreds of years.

-Arbor Day is celebrated around the world by 44 countries.

-Learn more at the Arbor Day Foundation.

Taking Small Steps Can Raise Awareness and Promote Change 

From an idea held by a few, Earth Day and Arbor Day grew into global annual events. Thinking about climate change can be upsetting, talking about it is hard, and many of us suffer from a form of climate grief. 

But taking even small steps makes a difference!  As Liz Jensen quoted in a recent op-ed piece in The New York Times, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you’ve got.” 

You might begin today by taking time to recall a special memory of Earth Day or a favorite tree. Cherish it, share it. Start a conversation.

You can also start by following the Bronxville Green Committee on Instagram @bxvgreencommittee or visiting our website to learn about our programs, find inspiration, and take action toward a greener future for our community.


The Bronxville Green Committee is a volunteer organization that is part of the Village of Bronxville. We work to propose and implement environmentally sustainable programs in our community.









Sustainable Living Directory

The Bronxville Green Committee

The Bronxville Green Committee is a volunteer organization under Village government.  We work with the Trustees and Village staff on programs that promote clean energy initiatives and sustainable ways of living. Our programs include The Bronxville Giving Garden, a community garden whose produce is donated to local groups; Take Back Day, when we collect items to be recycled; and Pollinator Pathways, which encourages adding native plants to our gardens. We believe everyone can make a difference by adopting simple, sustainable practices in daily life so we can work together to protect what we love -- our families, our homes and our town.

Sustainable Living Articles


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