“On April 22, 1970, Earth Day was held, one of the most remarkable happenings in the history of democracy…” American Heritage magazine, October 1993
Did you know that today is actually the 38th anniversary of Earth Day? I have to admit I didn’t know that either. Senator Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day actually had this idea seven years prior to its official celebration. He knew then how important it was to bring attention to the demise of our environment. He had this idea in 1962 on how to bring environmental issues to the fore front; so he persuaded President Kennedy to take a five day, eleven state conservation tour in September 1963. The tour was not as successful as he had hoped in bringing national attention to the environment but it did plant the seed to what would become Earth Day!
“At a conference in Seattle in September 1969, I announced that in the spring of 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment and invited everyone to participate. The wire services carried the story from coast to coast. The response was electric. It took off like gangbusters. Telegrams, letters, and telephone inquiries poured in from all across the country. The American people finally had a forum to express its concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air – and they did so with spectacular exuberance……….” -Senator Gaylord Nelson (www.earthday.enironlink.org)
Today, because of this one day 38 years ago, when millions of Americans decided to act, we now have laws protecting our most precious resource, our Planet! We have the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and so many others that help us live in a healthy environment.
Earth Day isn’t just about going out and hugging a tree, it’s the one day to pause and recognize that our very existence depends on how we manage and maintain our surroundings; and to ignore it is to do so at our own peril for now and generations to come.
I’ve always liked the reason why the company Seventh Generation chose that as its name: The company derives its name from the Great Law of the Iroquois that states, “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” This is something to think about on day like today.
I hope you enjoy your day today as there are so many celebrations happening all over. *Fun Fact: Today is also the birthday of Julius Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day (the national tree planting holiday)!
Here’s a small timeline of just how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time:
In the 1970s 20 million people gathered to celebrate the first Earth Day.
In the 1980s Congress declares the public’s right to know when toxic chemicals are released in the air, land, and sea.
In the 1990s the EPA (environmental protection agency) issues tough new air quality standards for smog and soot, an action that would improve the air quality for 125 million Americans.
In the 2000s school buses across the country are retrofitted through the Clean School Bus USA program removing 200,000 lbs. of particulates over the next 10 years.
”Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.” Senator Gaylord Nelson.
Happy Earth Day!