In 1970, during the height of the counterculture movement in the US, massive student protests opposing the Vietnam war brought people together, gave them a voice, and empowered them to stand up for their beliefs. The environment, however, was still relatively unprotected. Factories released smoke and sludge, and big V8 Sedans guzzled leaded gas with little to no negative consequences for their public image. The majority of mainstream America remained oblivious. They did not escape the attention of everyone though, as Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, witnessed the drastic after-effects of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill and decided that something needed to be done, leading him to found Earth day.
Inspired by all the positivity from the anti-war protests, Earth Day was launched on April 22nd, 1970, and drove 20 million Americans to the streets to demonstrate against the deterioration of the environment. Various protest groups opposing things such as oil spills, polluting factories, toxic dumps and the loss of wilderness suddenly realised they shared common values. Not only this but the movement even managed to achieve an increasingly rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, tycoons and labor leaders alike.
Today, over 5,000 environmental groups and a record 184 countries have banded together to reach out to hundreds of millions of people spreading decisive messages on global warming and clean energy. Earth Day has now become the largest secular observance in the world and it is becoming more and more influential in leading policy changes everywhere.
Here at CSOFT, we fully embrace Earth Day and make a conscious effort to support the conservation of natural resources. Our San Francisco office, for example, is located in an energy star certified building, meaning it uses less energy and generates less greenhouse gas emissions than non-certified buildings. This environmentalism isn’t just prevalent in our American office, though; CSOFTers based in Beijing are also constantly make energy-conscious decisions. A vast majority ride bicycles to and from work every day, and all recycle and use green cleaning products around the office.
Of course, these are things we should be doing all year not just for one day, but Earth Day is about raising awareness and changing our future habits. If you are interested, you can join the movement (here) or take a look at the various events happening all over the world. Even without joining or attending the official events you can still be involved in a number of ways, from going paperless to even just drinking from a re-usable coffee cup – it really is that easy!