Chicago celebrates Earth Day's 50th anniversary

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Fifty years after the original Earth Day, generations are still marveling at our wondrous planet.

"I feel like it's the best day of the year because it's a holiday that everyone, literally everyone on earth can celebrate because we all are connected in that way," said 19-year-old Riley Schultz on Wednesday.

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Even though the Tinley Park High School senior and her classmates are apart because of COVID-19, they still celebrated by planting tomatoes at home.

"There are literally living things that all you have to do is water and they can grow flowers and new leaves... It's so cool," Schultz remarked with a smile.

Her science teacher, Mark Reiss, used this assignment to share a big lesson: "Theycan control the impact that they have on the environment," Reiss said.

Groups celebrated in Chicago, too. Mayor Lori Lightfoot helped kick off a virtual event with Chicago students at the Academy for Global Citizenship, or AGC.

Denis Hayes, an organizer of the original 1970 Earth Day, also participated with a call for the international community to "manage to come together around climate change because it is one of those things that is a genuine threat to the entire species."

His message to AGC is a reminder that five decades after Earth Day's start, the environmental fight continues.
But at the same time, AGC students on the city's Southwest Side are also an example of how Earth Day has already influenced society.

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Shedd Aquarium is sharing ways Illinois residents can help protect our planet from the safety of our own homes as people across the globe celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

"Stop using toxic cleaning chemicals," reminded one student in the school video, with another adding "bring reusable bags to the grocery store."

"We can build these globally-minded and environmentally-minded citizens who will be equipped with the empathy and the skills to really take action," said Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, AGC's founder and executive director.

You can also join the Earth Day celebrations from home right now by taking part in National Geographic's "Neighborhood Safari," celebrating your favorite animals.

ABC 7 and National Geographic are both owned by The Walt Disney Company.
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