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World Environment Day: Facts, History, Ways to Celebrate, and More

By Amanda Clark-RudolphJune 18, 2021

“The environment is everything that isn’t me.” – Albert Einstein

Have you heard of World Environment Day? It is a day created by the United Nations that spreads environmental action and awareness. Throughout its history, supporters have tackled sustainable topics such as plastic consumption, global warming, and ocean preservation.

But there’s so much more to learn about this underrated day. We’ve got the history, fun facts, and answers. 

Quick World Environment Day Facts: 

  • When was is first celebrated? In 1974
  • When is celebrated? On June 5th every year.
  • Where will it be hosted in 2021? Pakistan 
  • What is the theme of World Environment Day in 2021? “Ecosystem Restoration”. 

Why June 5th is celebrated as World Environment Day

People from all over the world celebrate it on June 5th because it was first discussed on June 5, 1972, at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.  

Held in Stockholm, Sweden, the conference ran from June 5th – Jun 16th and made history as the first international conference to discuss environmental issues and how humans should take action.  

Two years later, in 1974, the UN dedicated June 5th as World Environment Day. 

What is the importance?

According to the UN’s website, World Environment Day “is the principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the Environment.”

Since its start in 1974, the day has been an essential platform for environmental change, and over 150 countries participate each year

It’s no surprise that annually, millions of individuals take part. And, in addition to world governments – individuals, communities, organizations, and even celebrities continue to jump on board. 

Since implemented in 1974, this day has spread change and awareness on notable environmental issues like the depletion of the ozone layer, toxic chemicals, desertification, and global warming. 

What is the focus of World Environment Day?

World Environment Day is a time when world leaders meet and discuss ideas for change. 

On this day, the UN heavily emphasizes environmental education, which according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fosters positive skills, attitudes, and participation towards protecting our world. 

The UN’s specific goals for this day involve spreading awareness of environmental issues through education, reading, quizzes, and more. You can find more info on the organization’s site

In a nutshell, the focus of World Environment Day is to mark a dedicated occasion for countries to brainstorm and take steps towards creating a sustainable world. 

History of World Environment Day:

To better understand World Environment Day and how it has made such an impact, explore the brief timeline below:

  • 1972 – The idea for the day was discussed at the Stockholm Conference in Sweden.
  • 1974 – The first World Environment Day took place with the theme: “Only One Earth.” 
  • 1987 – The day was celebrated at the UN headquarters in Nairobi, KenyaThe Global 500 awards began and were given to environmental champions beginning and lasting through 2003.
  • 1988 –  Official rotations of the day at different host countries around the globe started.
  • 1989 –  Global warming awareness becomes a focus of World Environment Day in Brussels, Belgium (the host country)
  • 1992 –  The UN Conference on Environment World Environment Day coincided with the UN Conference on Environment in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • 1995 –  Nelson Mandela attends the event, and South Africa hosts the Day 
  • 2000 – The UN launches a comprehensive World Environment day website.
  • 2005 – North America hosted World Enment Day for the first time.
  • 2011 – The online presence and followers of the day grow, and a whopping four thousand activities related to WorldEnvironment Day are registered worldwide.
  • 2015 –  More than 500 YOUTUBE videos about World Environment Day are posted. 
  • 2018 – India hosts with the theme “Beat Plastic Pollution”. The theme encouraged the clean-up of 90,000 kg of plastic and set the motion for plastic bans in India and other countries.
  • 2020 – With Covid-19 raging on, Colombia hosted World Environment Day with the theme of “Biodiversity.” 
  • 2021 – After 14 world leaders encouraged other countries to take action at the World Environment Day 2020, 50 Countries vowed to protect 30 percent of the planet’s land and ocean by 2030. 

The UN designated Pakistan as the World Environment Day Host with a theme of Ecosystem Restoration” following a dark pandemic year.

What can I do for it?

So you know more about the history and meaning behind World Environment Day, but you’re still wondering what you can do this June 5th to leave a mark? 

Here are a few ideas to help save the planet:

  • Go carless for a day (or carpool)
  • Eat vegan or vegetarian for a day
  • Go powerless for a day
  • Try to use no plastic the entire day
  • Volunteer for an animal rescue
  • Clean up your neighborhood
  • Create awareness by posting about the day on your social media feed
  • Read an environmentally-friendly book 
  • Watch an ecological movie
  • Weigh your individual or family’s food waste for a day and then try to do better the next day
  • Download the Spiral banking¹ app and donate to environmental causes. Spiral will even match up to $150 annually³ for your donations via the Spiral app to 1 million+ qualifying² charitable causes!
  • Write a letter to your local Congress member about environmental changes or laws you’d like to see. 

How to celebrate World Environment Day in school

Here are some ideas on how to celebrate the occasion in school that you can bring to the attention of your local school board, teachers, or administration.

  • Organize a book or clothes swap. 
  • Revamp or start a recycling program with student volunteers.
  • Go outside and have your students make a nature sculpture.
  • Discuss or create a poster about ways students can go green at school and home.
  • Do a short research project on ways to protect the environment.
  • Explore the United Nations World Environment Day website. Teachers can make a scavenger hunt or worksheet about the website as a quick, informative assignment. 
  • Research and write a report on ways to protect the environment. Then choose a few as a class to put into action. 
Did you know? (exciting facts related to the Environment)
Photo from Shutterstock

Did you know? (exciting facts related to the Environment)

Awareness is vital, and to get you thinking about this year’s World Environment Day, we’ve put together some exciting facts about the Environment. 

  1. If you recycle just one aluminum can, you will save enough energy to run a television for 3 hours. 
  1. 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste were generated in 2019.
  1. Since the late 1800s, the planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  1. The world consumes around 100 million tons of plastic each day. 
  1. Climate change has caused 21.5 million people to have been forcibly displaced since 2008. 
  1. In 2019 the earth lost a football field of primary rainforest every 6 seconds. 

Looking for some environmental organizations to donate to on June 5th? 

Spiral’s ethical banking¹ service supports many qualifying environmental charities². Use the Spiral Banking app for your donations and you can even get up to $150 matched³ dollar-for-dollar annually!

The Bottom Line:

Now you have the information and tools to get started and make an impact this June 5th on World Environment Day. 

Whether it’s spreading your new-found knowledge about small ways to protect our world, organizing a school-wide swap, or writing letters to congress, you can make a difference. 

After all, when it comes to our world, we are all in this together. What are you going to do to make a change? 

Remember, if you plan to donate to a nonprofit helping the environment, donate through Spiral’s Ethical Banking App and get your donations matched up to $150 per year³. 

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