We love the outdoors. Given that, one would think that getting excited for Earth Day would be an easy sell to people like us. It turns out, we began to wonder if Earth Day merely pays lip service to environmental issues. At first, we thought that this was disconcerting given the fact how much all of us love the outdoors. A knee jerk reaction might be to ridicule us on this fact but it got us thinking about Earth Day and critically looking at what it means 45 years after it was formed. Does it mean the same thing today? Do we, as outdoor enthusiasts, need Earth Day?
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Why Earth Day Was Important
In the interest of brevity, April 22, 1970 marked the first Earth Day where 20 million Americans participated in peaceful demonstrations to show their support for environmental reform. Undoubtedly the timing of Earth Day coincided perfectly with the unrest of the late 1960s and early 1970s. People were primed for change. This early momentum sparked the passage of several landmark acts include the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. In short, people needed a movement to get the ball rolling in terms of environmental sustainability.
Does it still matter?
With over a billion people predicted to participate this year, it is difficult to argue that the Earth Day mantra has gone stale after 45 years of mobilizing people and broadening support for various environmental programs. Even if the specific day had gone stale, the various programs that have adopted the “Earth Day mantra” are attempting to keep the message fresh. Earth Day has the unique capability to take a huge, global issue and bring it down to size, if only for a day.
The fact that our office loves the outdoors and a portion of us don’t really pay attention to Earth Day says something. It might say that we spend too much time in the outdoors (like that is possible) and everyday is an “Earth Day” in one form or another. It could mean that we are focused on other issues surrounding the outdoors that are “closer to home”. The one thing it does not mean is that we don’t have a deep appreciation for the outdoors and the time spent doing what we love. Does being an outdoorsman automatically make you an environmentalist? On the other hand, does being an environmentalist automatically make you an outdoorsman?
It is our contention that outdoor enthusiasts and environmentalists are “reading the same book” but one is starting from the front and one is starting in the back, hoping to meet in the middle. The Earth Day Network continues to gain support through Earth Day and has done a great job of mobilizing people toward the common goal of broadening support for environmental programs. While the specific programs and goals may be different, outdoor enthusiasts and supporters are also working toward a common end of preserving the environment, or outdoors, whichever term you prefer.