Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement which began in 1970. It is an annual celebration that honors the achievements of those who work to raise awareness of the need to protect Earth’s natural resources for future generations. Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 in the United States and on the day the spring equinox occurs throughout the rest of the world.
The First Earth Day
Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin, had long been concerned about the deteriorating environment in the United States. In 1969, Senator Nelson announced the idea for a teach-in on college campuses to the national media. April 22, a weekday falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, was chosen to maximize the greatest student participation.
Recognizing its potential to inspire all Americans, Hayes later built a national staff to promote events across the land and the effort soon broadened to include a wide range of organizations. They changed the name to Earth Day, which immediately sparked national attention, and caught on across the country. Earth Day inspired 20 million Americans — at the time, 10% of the total population of the United States — to take to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate against the impacts of 150 years of industrial development which had left a growing legacy of serious human health impacts. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment and there were massive rallies in cities and communities across the country.
By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of other first of their kind environmental laws, including the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act. Two years later Congress passed the Clean Water Act.
In 1990, Earth Day went global. Click here to read the full history.
Earth Day & the Sustainable Fashion Movement
Slow fashion refers to a clothing supply chain that is ecologically and socially responsible. It aims to reorient the industry and consumers away from the fast fashion model and toward sustainable practices in sourcing, production, distribution, marketing, and consumption.
Some Key Facts:
- The fashion industry produces 150 billion garments a year and 87% (40 million tons) end up in a landfill where they smolder and pollute the air or an incinerator.
- Only 1% of all discarded clothing is actually recycled.
- The average person today buys 60 percent more items of clothing than they did 15 years ago, but keep them for only half as long. The average garment may be worn as few as ten times before disposal.
- The apparel industry is responsible for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions – the same as the countries of Germany, France and the U.K. combined. Unchecked, fashion production would account for 26% of all carbon emissions by 2050.
- Fashion is one of the most polluting of all industries. Clothing is manufactured with highly toxic dyes and heavy metals that are flushed into clean water streams, rivers and aquifers where they sicken people and animals, harm ecosystems, and cause biodiversity loss. More facts listed here.
How Conscious Consumerism Makes a Difference
- Educate yourself about sustainable clothing practices.
- Buy less and shop for quality over quantity.
- Choose natural materials – organic cotton, linen, cashmere, silk and wool.
- Buy recycled fabrics – 100% recycled polyester, viscose (rayon), etc.
- Research brands to identify those that are ethical and practice transparency and sustainability.
- Choose brands that are manufacturing in their own communities and are connected to the people behind them, local economy, and environment.
- Support local independent designers who create in small batch with low environmental impact.
- Curate your closet to prioritize high quality slow fashion that will last for years with the proper care. #LessIsMoreWardrobe
- By Mary Vukovic'