Does the 40th Earth Day Matter?

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Tomorrow is Earth Day. Ironically, not much fanfare has been made of the 40th Earth Day anniversary. Still the usual flood of events are being created to invoke environmental awareness by many organizations around the world. Disney even released a movie this year called Oceans. Given the incredible amount of environmental activism that occurs now throughout the year I wondered if Earth Day has achieved its mission.

The effort was started by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson to create, “a national day of observance of environmental problems.” Now a global movement, Earth Day is celebrated across the globe.

One of the encouraging things about Earth Day is that more and more people think about the environment everyday. I asked my network for some thoughts on the event…


While Earth Day has become a center point for lots of noise, it still has value in my opinion. Not for those of us who are actively engaged in the daily struggles to be more mindful about our environmental consumption or general societal sustainability issues. But for those that still have yet to take on a sense of personal responsibility about the environment.

For those that are undecided, may the Earth Day celebration rise to a level that their ears and eyes cannot help but take notice. In my mind, when the world sings the environment’s cause for a day as loud as possible, it causes more and more of us to take heed. Earth Day still matters. On to 50!

Geoff Livingston is a regular contributor to the Live Earth blog.

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  • Lynn Anne Miller


    I’m with you on the general spirit of this post, but one thing I’d like to point out is that unfortunately many Consumer Products Goods companies and retailers are using Earth Day as a major promotional event to push “green” products. I’m not sure if this trend is being driven by the business owners themselves, or by their agencies, but its a trend that is accelerating.

    In my opinion, Earth Day should be a day of service or a time to make a renewed commitment to truly sustainable endeavors (such as Whole Foods is doing with its new wine cork recycling program). It should actually be a “buy nothing” day, much like the “Buy Nothing Day” alternative to the Black Friday shopping extravaganza.


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  • Geoff Livingston

    I understand that mentality, Lynn. It does remind me of the old adage do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy? I think getting the unconvinced to participate in anything green is the first step, then when they begin their eco-conscious journey, we can teach them best, mindful practices. Asking them to run from the start might be too much.

  • Rich Becker

    Hey Geoff,

    I think it still has value, but the value belongs to how each individuals observes it. I like Lynn Anne’s thought that is could be a day of service. I also think its a valuable discussion point for children in order to nurture their understanding of the environment.

    People generally want to like Earth Day, but it does seem quieter this year. Between the commercialization, green washing, and politicized nature of global warming, I think what we may be seeing a macro-sized case study in wearing down a message.

    When every day is Earth Day, and some of it astroturf, the meaning becomes lost. Maybe not to people like you and me, but perhaps the general population.


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