Since 1970, Earth Day has inspired and challenged millions from Tokyo to Togo to Toledo. This past spring, millions were galvanized for a Call to Climate, the 2008 Earth Day global warming action theme. They gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and other cities across the country to exchange ideas, become empowered, and raise their voices to urge action on climate change, according to Earth Day organizers.
The events were not merely educational. They were entertaining as well, featuring musicians, actors, exhibits, and much more. In New York City, participants enjoyed the talents of Ricky Scaggs & Kentucky Thunder, perused arts and crafts made with recycled materials, and shopped with greenmarket vendors. Torrential rain didn't prevent thousands from showing up at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to demonstrate their environmental concerns. In Chicago, Earth Day participants celebrated at the Lincoln Park Zoo with artists Bill Kreutzmann from the Grateful Dead, Otell Burbridge of the Allman Brothers, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The event, hosted by Kyle Orton of the Chicago Bears and Jodi Murphy, host of "Wrecklamation" Planet Green (Discovery Network), featured 26 environmental non-profits and green companies. At the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, participants checked a record 1,000 bicycles at the beachside valet.
Founded by the organizers of the first Earth Day in 1970, Earth Day Network (EDN) promotes environmental citizenship and year-round progressive world action. Through Earth Day Network, activists connect, interact, and have an impact on their communities. EDN's international network reaches more than 17,000 organizations in 174 countries, while the domestic program engages 5,000 groups and more than 25,000 educators coordinating millions of community development and environmental protection activities throughout the year. More than half a billion people participate in campaigns every year.
The idea for Earth Day evolved over seven years beginning in 1962. Senator Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day, was troubled by the fact that the environment was simply a non-issue in U.S. politics. In November 1962, Nelson came up with the idea of persuading President John F. Kennedy to give visibility to the issue by going on a national conservation tour. The President began his five-day, 11-state conservation tour in September 1963. While the tour ultimately did not succeed in putting the issue onto the national political agenda, it was the germ of the idea that ultimately gave life to Earth Day.
Anti-Vietnam demonstrations gave Nelson the inspiration for a grassroots protest over what was happening to the environment. Once the Earth Day announcement was made, a major newspaper article covered the astonishing proliferation of environmental events being organized. The rest is history.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle has become a mantra for many Americans who have embraced the environmental concerns Nelson recognized all those year's ago. Recycling, especially, has given new life to products or materials who have reached their useful life by turning these products into a usable raw material to make another product. Metal scrap recycling, in particular, has seen a huge surge. Overall, the scrap industry processes more than 145 million tons of recyclable material annually into raw material feedstock for industrial manufacturing around the world.
Scrap recycling helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserves energy and natural resources. The scrap metal industry diverts millions of tons of materials away from landfills. The result is cleaner air and water as potentially hazardous materials are removed.
Everyday, new strides are being made, laws are being passed and ideas are being generated in an effort to incorporate an eco-friendly lifestyle. From Earth Day participants who seek to reform policy making in Washington to the local owner of a scrap metal yard, the "going green" process requires a concentrated effort on everyone's part.
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