Earth Day was founded by Wisconsin’s own Senator Gaylord Nelson on April 22, 1970. According to EarthDay.org, 20 million Americans (at the time, 10% of the total population of the United States) took to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies on that first Earth Day in 1970. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment.
Groups that were working individually against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife united on Earth Day around shared common values.
Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urban dwellers and farmers, business and labor leaders. By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.
Fast forward to 1990, when Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage.
Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community to combat the cynicism of climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community.
For Earth Day 2020, Earth Day Network (EDN) has relaunched its flagship platform, A Billion Acts of Green® with global activations that aim to mobilize a billion people worldwide for transformative action for our planet. A Billion Acts of Green,the world’s largest environmental service project, will serve as a frame for all actions taken on the EDN website – whether it’s a petition signed, a cleanup hosted, a climate march registered, etc.
The previous iteration of A Billion Acts of Green saw more than 2 billion actions registered. To mark 50 years of Earth Day, they’re setting a 2020 goal of 3.5 billion actions taken, logged, and aggregated around the world. Check out the link at: www.earthday.org/take-action-now
What does that mean for our co-op community? I believe the VFC Mission, that brings us together over quality food, is the heart of environmental activism. As a co-op, we support local organic farmers that base their livelihoods on soil health and humane animal husbandry. Organic farming practices protect the water table, supports complex ecosystems, increases nutrients in our food, and in turn improves the health of our bodies.
The choices we make every day, not just when we shop for food, do make a difference. Grow an organic garden, plant a tree and a pollinator garden. Always carry a reusable bag, use containers from home for bulk foods. Volunteer for a cleanup effort, and support our Reserve and Park system. Ride your bike! And vote for city, county, state and federal representatives that know the importance of a healthy environment and will act on the values we embrace.