What does Earth Day mean to you in 2023, as compared to the first year you learned about it?
Earth Day was born of a collaboration between government and citizens circa 1969, about the time the Nixon administration established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Clean Air Act, after New York had created the nation’s first municipal EPA in 1968.
The first Earth Day, named by prominent ad man Juilan Koenig (to rhyme with Birthday), fell on a school day, which meant that whole classes of students planted flowers, swept public spaces, recycled and protested pollution.
What will you be doing to take action this year and beyond?
Here at Creative Alignments, we’re doing an Earth Day bingo competition to see how many habit-changing actions our team can take. We also asked our team to share their first personal memories of Earth Day. Here are a few responses.
“I remember the very first Earth Day in 1970. The brother of one of my best friends rode his bike from Boulder to Denver as a statement for alternative transportation. It seemed like an epic accomplishment at the time, but now it’s not a big deal. I also participated in an Earth Day tree-planting activity at my elementary school, and I bet those trees are giant now! Many years later, Earth Day is much more important to me as we battle climate change and face tremendous challenges to save our planet for future generations.”
-MJ, Executive Recruiter for CPG brands making a difference for people and planet.
“In the mid 80s, Earth Day got my family talking about how climate change (not sure what we called it back then) would someday cause my grandparents in Arizona to have waterfront property, while our house in a California beach town would be under water. Climate issues seemed pressing even back then. So much has changed, and yet so little. I think of the people, culture and language of Tuvalu island. They are indeed sinking under water due to climate change.”
-Shenna, Director of Impact and Strategic Communications
“I remember as a kid being so aware of needing to help our planet. I wrote a poem for Earth Day when I was eight. Here’s what I remember of it:
The sky is blue,
The sea is green,
What do you expect if they’re not clean?
They’ll be brown or even black,
Thick with Smog, littered with snack.
Think before you throw away,
you can recycle everyday,
Just take your glass, aluminum, and paper,
Even recycle a plastic container.
Be nice to the world as you would your best friend,
Then the world won’t end!
I remember feeling deeply scared about our future here and still feel that today, even more so now that I have my own kiddos and want them to do all the things to help the earth, come up with solutions, and live as sustainably as possible, not wasting and not using plastic whenever possible. My daughter seems really aware and made me so proud yesterday when she asked if I’d give her money for the gift shop at the Zoo for her field trip. She even volunteered (as she bargained for the money) that she would not buy anything plastic and my heart was full (and of course I handed over the money).”
-Alexis, Recruiter for sustainable, better-for-your CPG brands
In the future, what will today’s school children say about Earth Day? That will depend on how we use the power and influence of business to change the narrative and practice of capitalism to become a force for good. One way to do this is to pursue a B Corp certification. We’re at the last stages of this rigorous process, and would be happy to chat with companies interested in doing the same to share our experience, if it can help others.