Forty years ago today, we celebrated our first Earth Day. Approximately 20 million Americans from all walks of life joined together to honor our planet. Whether your connection to nature is as an angler in the great outdoors or a community gardener in a dedicated urban space, Earth Day is about thinking of the small—and big—ideas that help to preserve our planet. Today, there are many easy ways to go green from recycling and composting to hybrids and public transportation.
My relationship with nature began when I was a young boy. My father left his job at Bell Telephone to start Newtown Gardens, a small plant nursery. I remember romping through the giant greenhouse where he worked, the fecund smell of heating compost, the seemingly endless rows of plants. It was amazing to witness his passion for working with natural things.
No doubt influenced by that passion, I went on to work for environmental organizations – the League of Conservation Voters and the Institute for Conservation Leadership – and making a difference for environment remains something in which I believe strongly.
Giving Back on Earth Day
Earth Day 2010 is expected to have at least 1.5 billion people take part in events and programs across the globe. Imagine the impact if each one made a $10 donation to an organization that works to protect the Earth long after Earth Day is over. Here are some powerful organizations that I’m thinking about today:
Katie Redford and her group, Earthrights International (ERI) (link) introduced a simple and powerful idea into the human rights and environmental justice movements: that corporations can be brought to court for their role in overseas abuse. ERI seeks to end “earth rights” abuses, to provide real solutions for real people, and to promote and protect human rights and the environment in the communities where they work.
Thimmakka’s certifies green businesses through their efforts to produce less air pollution, reduce the costs of health care and landfill fees, consume and create less waste, and avoid the use of toxic chemicals. Using her connections within immigrant communities in the Bay Area, Ritu Primlani and her team have certified more than 125 restaurants. They report that, among other accomplishments, 19.4 thousand tons of solid waste (that’s about 245 loaded 737-400 Boeing jets) have been diverted from landfill.
The Blackfoot Challenge is organized locally and known nationally as a model for preserving the rural character and natural beauty of a watershed. Led by landowners, their cooperative approach of focusing on the 80% that the US Fish and Wildlife Service, environmentalists, and they agree upon helped spur, in part, President Obama to announce his America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
For me, Earth Day brings me back to childhood – running through the rows of blooming flowers and climbing the mounds of wood chips. It makes me all the more happy to celebrate the day by giving back to groups whose passion to make a difference continues to inspire me. Visit us on Facebook and let us know about what groups are your passion!