Earth Day is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin as an environmental teach-in held on April 22, 1970. Earth Day is celebrated in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and fall in the Southern hemisphere. Some places celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues. The first Earth Week was in Philadelphia in 1970 (it began April 16 and culminated on Earth Day, April 22.) Earth Day Network, a group that wishes to become the coordinator of Earth Day globally, asserts that Earth Day is now observed on April 22 almost everywhere on Earth.
World Environment Day, celebrated on June 5 in a different nation every year, is the main United Nations environment-related observance.
My, how have times changed. So strong was the antibusiness sentiment for the first Earth Day in 1970 that organizers took no money from corporations and held teach-ins â€œto challenge corporate and government leaders.â€
But now, forty years later, Earth Day has turned into a major marketing platform for selling a huge variety of goods and services.
For this yearâ€™s celebration, Bahama Umbrella is advertising a specially designed umbrella, with a drain so that water â€œcan be stored, reused and recycled.â€ Gray Line, a New York City sightseeing company, will keep running its buses on fossil fuels, but it is promoting an â€œEarth Weekâ€ package of trips to "green spots" like the botanical gardens and flower shopping at Chelsea Market.
F. A. O. Schwarz is using Earth Day to showcase Peat the Penguin, an emerald-tinted plush toy that, as part of the Greenzys line, is made of soy fibers and teaches green lessons to children.
Eco-consumerism, creeping into our society for decades, is intensely frustrating and detracts from Earth Dayâ€™s original purpose to many long-term environmental activists.
â€œThis ridiculous perverted marketing has cheapened the concept of what is really green,â€ said Denis Hayes, who was national coordinator of the first Earth Day and is returning to organize this yearâ€™s activities in Washington. â€œIt is tragic.â€
By the same token, the eagerness of corporations to be a part of Earth Day also reflects the environmental movementâ€™s increased tolerance toward corporate America: Many â€œbig greens,â€ as leading environmental advocacy organizations are known, now accept that they must take money from corporations, or at the least become partners with them on some levels,Â if they are to make significant progress in changing social behavior.