I remember the first Earth Day forty years ago. I did a project with my friend Linda about endangered animals. Everyone in the entire school went outside on a gorgeous spring day to pick up garbage on the roads around the school. We were all so excited.
I think people forget that everyone was excited about Earth Day and about helping the environment then. The issue hadn’t become politicized. The country was united after the polluted Cuyahoga River went up in flames.
Both Democrats and Republicans in Washington supported and passed clear air and water regulations. These new tough laws were incredibly effective. When I was kid growing up on Long Island, you knew you were getting close to New York City because you could see and smell a layer of brown smog above the city. After these regulations were passed, the smog disappeared. Since the Reagan administration, however, tough regulations against corporations and businesses are taboo.
I wish we could recapture this bipartisan environmental effort. President Obama was elected partly because so many young people, motivated by environmental issues, voted for him. It didn’t matter if they were on the right or the left.
On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, we’d like you to ignore the politics and recapture this excitement about preserving the environment and about enjoying and reconnecting to nature.
To that end, we’re sponsoring an Earth Day contest (open to all ages). Please send us one simple practical idea by April 19th that we can all use to help the environment or reconnect with nature, guided by these words:
It doesn’t have to be a grand or complicated idea. For example, maybe someone can think of a way for people to remember to bring reusable grocery bags to the store. The winner, announced on Earth Day, will receive either the poster above or below (printed on FSC certified paper) or a 100% cotton t-shirt or onesie, made and printed in the U.S (their choice):