The Tribune again this year did its part to mark the observance. We had our annual Earth Day recycling collection event Friday and Saturday in the newspaper's parking lot at the rear of the building. We had staff on Friday available to help people unload stuff to be recycled. Included in the list of items accepted were books, magazines, catalogs, encyclopedias and other assorted paper products. This year, aluminum was welcomed. On Saturday, it was self-serve.
The project is in partnership with the River Valley Paper Co. of Akron. People bring it, we collect it and they haul it off. Then, River Valley makes a donation to our Hope Chest Foundation, which helps local residents in need. The collection last year saw tons of recyclables collected.
But the observance got me thinking about how Earth Day came to be. I knew it was in the 1970s when it started, and I understood its general meaning. I went to the Earth Day Network website (earthdaynetwork.org) and found some interesting information. I'll share a few paragraphs here:
''Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a "national teach-in on the environment" to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.
''As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
''Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. 'It was a gamble,' Gaylord recalled, 'but it worked.'''
Some of that I either didn't know or had forgotten. I'm glad I looked it up. I remember the old days of leaded gasoline, smokestacks and pollution.
Remember the very effective TV campaign against littering involving the Native American from the 1970s? I do. It was one of the first public service announcements I can remember regarding littering and the environment. In the PSA, the actor observes litter strewn about and turns to the camera as a tear runs down his face. I remember it like it was yesterday. Sadly, I still see people throw fast food containers and other similar stuff out the window of their vehicles. But at least now they try to be sneaky about it. When the PSA was airing, people didn't even think twice about tossing trash out the window.
We've come a long way since 1970. The environment is in a a lot better shape (the global warming issue is a topic for another column) but there still is room for improvement.
Robinson is the editor of the Tribune Chronicle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.