“Earth Day to May Day” Marcha Campesina, Skagit County, WA. Credit: David Bacon
This Saturday, April 22nd is Earth Day. Looking back on the past half century since Earth Day’s 1969 inception, the environmental movement in the US has made significant strides, including the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and more. While JTA recognizes Earth Day’s historic role in helping to pass legislation and raise awareness around the need for environmental stewardship, we feel it’s important to name the ever-increasing amount of corporate greenwashing that takes place around this day.
In the 1960s, pollution in rural and urban environments in the US was rampant, due to unregulated factories, mining, waste dumping and pesticides. With the publication of Silent Spring in 1962, many Americans began to wake up to the unsustainable toxicity of their modern lifestyle. But it wasn’t until the nation-wide teach-ins of Earth Day in 1969 that public pressure forced the government to institute much-needed regulations. Very shortly after the first Earth Day event, the Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act were initiated, and an era of increased eco-consciousness began to change the way we all see our relations to life in our natural environment. In the decades since then, many of these important rules have been neutered or rolled back, and today, Earth Day is more of a corporate disinformation spectacle than a celebration of the ecological systems that sustain us, and the actions we take to protect our planet.
As businesses promote their sustainability efforts, we encourage critical thinking about what constitutes any real environmental solutions: pathways that allow us to transition away from dirty energy and other polluting industries, while protecting the health and wellbeing of those on the frontlines of ecological crises. With the number of petrochemical corporations that presently use Earth Day to greenwash their polluting practices, we need to invoke the spirit of Rachel Carson and boldly call out such blatant duplicity and deception.
Also, taking care of the Earth and all our living relatives requires us to go beyond a single day or week of practice. JTA hopes to see this annual event evolve into a month that celebrates all lands, labor and life. We call for all our allies amongst frontline workers and environmental justice communities to #TakeBackEarthDay from the corporations who use this day to greenwash their plundering, polluting and profiteering from the destruction of our common Mother.
For more information on real vs. false solutions to the climate crisis, read Hoodwinked in the Hothouse at climatefalsesolutions.org