By Keith Schneringer
An Earth Day Message
The first Earth Day occurred on April 22, 1970 – and as we prepare for the 47th anniversary of that event this weekend, it is worthwhile to look back at the rich and interesting history of this day while we also consider what this event means to us now today, and what it can mean to us into the future.
The First Earth Day
The year 1970 presented a fascinating backdrop for the first Earth Day – approximately 20 million Americans, and especially students on college and university campuses, galvanized by news of environmental degradation such as air pollution, pesticides, toxic dumps, loss of wilderness and open spaces, and oil spills, participated in a national “teach in” on environmental issues in an event which is credited with marking the beginning of the modern environmental movement.
The suggestion to have an “Earth Day” is widely credited to Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson – and it is important to note that the idea garnered widespread and bipartisan support. That year there was also a similarly themed event in San Francisco organized by a peace activist named John McConnell which was held on March 21 (this date was chosen because it was the first day of Spring), and there are still Earth Day related events which take place on this day.
Jacqueline Romero & Louis Horvath at an Earth Day event in Del Mar in 2016 (left); Keith Schneringer & Melody Castillo at a sustainability focused event at Balboa Park in San Diego (right)
April 22 has become the more prominent day, and each year since 1970 people in the United States have observed Earth Day on this date. This date was chosen to try to maximize student participation since it was determined that it would not conflict with holidays such as Passover or Easter, it would occur late enough in the Spring to increase the likelihood of decent weather, and it also coincided with the birth of noted conservationist John Muir (b. April 21, 1838) and the tree-focused celebration of Arbor Day (traditionally observed on the last Friday of the month in April).
Earth Day took a big step in 1990 when Dennis Hayes, the national coordinator at the first Earth Day in 1970, and Edward Furia, Project Director of the first “Earth Week” in 1970, each took the event to a global audience in an effort which is credited with increasing recycling rates worldwide, and ultimately leading to the United Nations Earth Summit in 1992.
The U.S. Green Building Council was subsequently formed in 1993 – and their LEED Rating System launched in 2000 – helping to bring together the concepts of reduced environmental impacts combined with reduced health and economic impacts. Today the USGBC is a non-profit organization which boasts 13,000 members focused on promoting sustainability in building design, construction and operation.
Fred Kalbrosky, a Sales Consultant with WAXIE Northern CA, loves attending Earth Day events with customers
Earth Day Today – and Into the Future
Today Earth Day is observed in 192 countries and is credited with raising awareness of issues related to environmental quality such as recycling and waste diversion, energy and water conservation, and improved human health and wellness.
WAXIE Sanitary Supply is an active member of the communities where we serve and has an organizational commitment to sustainability – our people have been regular contributors to Earth Day events in our various locations over the years, and we look forward to participating in Earth Day events in our communities once again in 2017!
Keith Schneringer is WAXIE’s Director of Channel Marketing + Sustainability. He is a LEED AP O+M and CIMS-GB ISSA Certification Expert who has been a consultant on a variety of LEED and CIMS-GB projects, and has presented to audiences at USGBC, BOMA, IFMA and CHESC events (among others). He enjoys learning and sharing information on topics related to sustainability and green cleaning and can be found on Twitter @kschneringer.