Center for American Progress

It’s Easy Being Green: Earth Day Gets a Boost from Online Networks
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It’s Easy Being Green: Earth Day Gets a Boost from Online Networks

Advocacy organizations, government agencies, and environmental networks are all using the Internet to promote Earth Day and make it easier for people everywhere to participate.

Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), above, who passed away in 2005, was the founder of Earth Day, which drew an estimated 20 million people to the first event in 1970. Today the power of online organizing has helped expand participation. (AP/Mark Hoffman)
Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), above, who passed away in 2005, was the founder of Earth Day, which drew an estimated 20 million people to the first event in 1970. Today the power of online organizing has helped expand participation. (AP/Mark Hoffman)

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Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), Earth Day founder, planned the day 39 years ago to show “that there was broad and deep support for the environmental movement.” An estimated 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day. Today, with the power of online organizing, the event has expanded dramatically to involve many more in diverse celebrations around the world. Advocacy organizations, foundations, and nonprofits now use online tools to mobilize communities, institutions, businesses, and individuals everywhere to participate in efforts to honor and celebrate Planet Earth.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been actively engaged in promoting and supporting Earth Day for years. It offers widgets and podcasts on its website, and promotes social media gatherings such as its month-long photo and video projects that encourage participants to share images that uphold the agency’s mission to protect the environment.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration also has a dedicated Earth Day website that features interactive media, downloadable brochures and handbooks, posters, video, and photography that animate and celebrate its tagline: “Earth Day is every day at NASA.”

For its part, the online Earth Day Network boasts 17,000 members in 174 countries and notes on its website that “more than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities, making it the largest secular civic event in the world.” The network also sponsors Earth Day campaigns, such as The Green Generation, which will culminate in a 40th anniversary celebration for next year’s Earth Day and seems to renew Americans’ commitment to a healthier environment..

Many Earth Day events took place over the weekend, but you can participate today in events coordinated by Earth Day Network and Green Apple Festival around the country. Or connect from work with networks such as Earth Share, which coordinates local, national, and international environmental charities to make it easier for individuals to donate to environmental and conservation causes.

Sen. Nelson passed away in 2005, but he was surely able to see even then the ways that the Internet has spread his idea and increased Earth Day’s ability to unite people around the world—not only on Earth Day itself, but throughout the year.

Read more articles from the "It’s Easy Being Green" series

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