Earth Day began in the late 1960s following the Vietnam War and was originally created with political aims. The Earth Day holiday on April 22 actually follows the first Earth Day of the year on March 20, the spring equinox.
Senator Gaylord Nelson came up with the Earth Day movement as a way to mobilize locals to discuss and deal with environmental issues. The oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969 first inspired the senator, and his vision came to fruition on April 22, 1970 with nationally held rallies. Originally, he created Earth Day to have an influence on politics. The Environmental Protection Agency was created just months after the first rally, and the movement went on to help pass the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act.
As of 2015, people celebrate Earth Day by planting trees and cleaning up public areas. In 1990, Earth Day attracted a much wider, global audience, stretching across 141 countries and involving 200 million people. Nearly 1 billion people in 192 countries participated in Earth Day activities in 2013. In 2009, Disney helped to celebrate Earth Day by releasing a nature documentary. This same year, Earth Day became a global holiday as International Mother Earth Day.