Earth Day is Passe...Or is It?


Photo credit: brunosan/Creative Commons

Oh lord, here we are again. Earth Day is nearly here. The roar of the trumped up press releases and tenuous links to sustainability is deafening! What started out as an impassioned celebration/day of action for the earth in 1970 has become a vehicle for companies to cash in on a growing trend. Or has it?What's your thoughts on Earth Day?

On one hand it is an opportunity to spotlight behaviors and products that people can carry on with for the rest of the year. It is useful, having a focal point for such an important topic as the health of world to be brought to the awareness of people beyond those already committed. It's helped "normalize" what used to be strictly for the fringe dwellers, making it safe for mainstream people, businesses and governments to take more bold action.

If only that were the extent of it.

How much of a carbon impact do large scale Earth day events cause? Does it exceed the cumulative difference people attending would have? For every genuine effort, how many are selling us things we don't need? Does the focused, annual nature of Earth Day lead people, like Thanksgiving, to think that their actions on that day mean they're done for the year, going back to their old behaviors shortly after?

That said, we at TerraCycle have got a few Earth Day actions we're doing. But they're both integrated with the rest of people's lives. And though one is a week, the other a month, we're hoping they eventually become a year round thing like our other recycling programs.

What am I talking about? Go look in your closet.

I'm betting you have at least one pair of flip flops from last Summer that you wore the heck out of. And don't know what to do with. From April 22nd until May 21st, you can take them to any Old Navy store, dropping them off. They'll be recycled into new products, taking up less room in your closet. And the landfill. By having this happen at Old Navy, it's where people are already going, rather than expecting them to go out of their way to take action.

Take note all you green companies, environmentalists, anybody wanting to cause a big impact, and shift people's behaviors: Ya gotta make it easy!!!

The same goes for your pens.

From April 17th to the 23rd, all 1,100 Office Depots will gladly accept your pens for recycling, regardless of brand, to be turned into new office-supply products by TerraCycle, ranging from trashcans to desk organizers. Giving this effort a little more incentive is the fact that if you bring in 10 pens, you'll get a coupon to get new Sanford products, which include Sharpie, EXPO and Paper Mate brands. Sanford's Writing Instrument Brigade has already resulted in 180,000 pens being collected since its late 2010 launch. We're optimistic that that number will substantially increase this month.

We are also are proudly launching two permanent year-round programs. One that collects Solo Squared cups (think the red plastic cup of your University days) which every cup recycled earns 2 cents for Keep America Beautiful and another sponsored by Garnier that collects ALL cosmetics packaging. Both of these programs launch around Earth Day, but will enable consumers to collect used packaging year round.

It's a start. One we don't intend to stop, until we've solved for waste in every category possible.

Readers: What's your thoughts on Earth Day? What's going well? What needs to change? How can it become a more effective tool for lasting change?
Read more about Earth Day:
13 Green Lifestyle Experts Tell Us Their Earth Day Plans (Slideshow)
How to Go Green: Earth Day
Does Earth Day Matter? The Climate Rally on the National Mall Offers an Answer (Video)

Tags: Earth Day | Recycling | Upcycling