Earth Day’s Origins: Sowing the Seeds of the Sustainability Movement
Today, as consumers demand environmentally friendly packaging from manufacturers and ask retailers to minimize waste, it’s easy to forget that nearly 50 years ago, concern for the environment was very different than it is today.
But on April 22, 1970, an estimated 20 million Americans decided it was time to stick up for Mother Earth, sparking an environmental movement that would spread across the globe.
On that first Earth Day, massive rallies and demonstrations across the country called for environmental regulations and conservation. Just eight months later, Congress authorized the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the push for important legislation such as the Clean Air Act and Safe Drinking Water Act had begun.
Earth Day was the brainchild of the late Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-Wis.), who in 1969 had observed the environmental devastation of an oil spill off the coast of California. Nelson had been impressed with how successful the "teach-ins" led by college students had been in building opposition to the Vietnam War, so he called on all Americans to come together the following spring for a day of environmental education.
Fast-forward to today, and Earth Day events are now held in more than 193 countries.
In 1990, approximately 200 million people in 141 countries participated in events to mark the 20th anniversary of Earth Day. Today, Earth Day events are held in more than 193 countries.
Cleanups and Meetups
Just like those first Earth Day demonstrators, today’s environmental advocates know that there’s strength in numbers, so the social hashtag #trashtag is now being used to organize local cleanup projects. The movement gained traction after UCO Gear, an outdoor lighting company in Seattle, began using the hashtag in 2015 to encourage hikers to pick up trash on trails.
Take a page from Sen. Nelson’s book and create your own meetup with students of all ages to educate and inform on how important it is to properly recycle goods and materials. How2Recycle has tons of great information on the latest in recycling best practices and labeling, so visit the site to get some ideas on how you can introduce the idea of proper recycling not only to students – but to your customers as well.
Recycling Makes an Impact
According to the National Institutes of Health, making products from recyclables yields big energy savings and stimulates the economy through job creation. The use of recycled materials uses significantly less energy to produce than their raw-materials counterparts. In fact:
- It takes 95 percent less energy to recycle aluminum than to make it from raw materials;
- Recycled steel uses 60 percent less energy to produce than to make it from new materials;
- And recycled newspaper uses 40 percent, recycled plastics 70 percent and recycled glass 40 percent less energy.
Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. In honor of this milestone, it’s worth remembering just how big an impact consumers can have by consistently recycling. Just think of the positive impact you can make over the next 54 weeks leading up to the 50th Anniversary. So, let’s get started!
And the next time you're at the beach or park - or even walking through your neighborhood - pick up a few pieces of trash and find the nearest recycling bin. Then post a photo and tag it with #trashtag to inspire your friends to do the same. You'll be sure to get a lot of likes, because there's a lot to like about a healthier planet.
To learn about Pregis’ commitment to creating environmentally conscious packaging materials, visit www.pregis.com/sustainability. For more info on the How2Recycle program, which encourages recycling through clear package labeling, check out www.how2recycle.info.