Planting Trees: Earth Day and Arbor Day
“The cultivation of flowers and trees is the cultivation of the good, the beautiful and the ennobling in man, and for one, I wish to see this culture become universal.”
- J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day, 1872
Earth Day and Arbor Day are both celebrated nationally and globally during the final weeks of April. What do you know about them? Are they the same thing or are they different? Why are they so close together? How can you celebrate both?
The first Arbor Day was celebrated on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska.
In 1854, Julius Sterling Morton and his wife moved from Detroit, Michigan to the newly formed Nebraska Territory, a land that had very few trees. Morton and his fellow pioneers missed their trees and needed them for windbreaks, fuel, building materials and shade from the hot prairie sun. As editor of the Nebraska City News, Morton used his position to write and speak about environmental stewardship and the interrelatedness of life. He encouraged everyone to set aside a specific day to plant trees. In 1872, the State Board of Agriculture accepted a resolution by J. Sterling Morton “to set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.”
In 1872 on April 10, his idea to set aside a day for planting and calling attention to trees became the first Arbor Day, when it is said that Nebraskans planted one million trees. The birthplace of Arbor Day was Nebraska City, where the Mortons lived in their home called Arbor Lodge. In 1885, Nebraska declared J. Sterling Morton's birthday, April 22, as Arbor Day. Eventually, J. Sterling Morton served as U. S. Secretary of Agriculture under President Grover Cleveland from 1893 to 1897.
Today, all 50 states, as well as many countries around the world, recognize Arbor Day in some manner. Now Arbor Day is most commonly celebrated on the last Friday in April, but a number of state arbor days coincide with the best tree planting weather. Here in North Carolina, the state arbor day is the first Friday following March 15th.
The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970.
The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Earth Day was first conceived as a “national teach-in on the environment” and April 22 was chosen because it came in between spring break and final exams, but also because it seemed natural to celebrate the first Earth Day on Arbor Day.
The first Earth Day saw a rare alignment of individuals and organizations across the political divide and led to the formation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as the passage of landmark environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Earth Day continues to be a day of political action and civic participation. Today, more than 1 billion people in 192 countries celebrate Earth Day, making it the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.
To learn more about Earth Day, visit the Earth Day Network.
Planting Trees: Celebrating Arbor Day and Earth Day
One of the most common ways to celebrate Arbor Day and Earth Day is to plant trees. '
In fact, the Arbor Day Foundation and the Earth Day Network both have new initiatives to plant more trees. The Arbor Day Foundation recently launched The Time for Trees initiative to plant 100 million trees in forests and communities and inspire 5 million new tree planters by 2022 — the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, The Earth Day Network’s The Canopy Project has set a new goal to plant 7.8 billion trees, one for every person on earth.
According to The Canopy Project, planting trees is one of the best ways to fight climate change.
Of course, we love the idea of planting more trees. Trees clean our air, contribute to our health, provide us with oxygen, clean our drinking water, provide much needed cooling, save energy, benefit wildlife, beautify the landscape (and increase property values!) and of course, reduce the effect of climate change. To read more facts about the benefit of trees, visit the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Facts page.
Plant a Little Sap tree seedling!
Consider celebrating Earth Day or Arbor Day or both by planting a tree of your own or gifting a tree to someone else. In honor of Earth Day AND Arbor Day, Little Saps is offering 10% off everything in our online store from now until Arbor Day on April 26th. We are offering sales on select items as well, so stay tuned.
Interested in other ways to celebrate Arbor Day and Earth Day? The Arbor Day Foundation has a list of ways to celebrate Arbor Day on their website here. It’s all about trees, so we love it!