COMMENTARY: Ready, Set, Earth Day

Greenies Share Their E-Day Plans

A lot has changed since the inaugural Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Presidents have come and gone, some leaving much greener legacies than others. Human population has exploded; China passed the U.S. in global warming emissions; the ozone layer was protected; species have gone extinct and been discovered; nuclear power peaked and declined; cars got smaller, then bigger, then smaller; a generation grew up.

But the spirit of care for our planet, for clean water, healthy forests and abundant biodiversity is still very much alive—and has spread throughout the globe. The worldwide dimming of lights during March’s Earth Hour is but one symbol of the increasingly interconnected world we all share, from every country to every species.

To help get you inspired for Earth Day, we polled environmental thought leaders, and asked them how they plan on spending this April 22. We hope you’ll find some ideas of ways you can pitch in, and help celebrate our Mother Earth too :

There’s only one way to celebrate Earth Day, and that’s by organizing. We’ve got 6 months to go till the huge global day of action for, so that’s all I’m up to!

-Bill McKibben, founder of, pioneering environmental journalist, author, professor and organizer

On Earth Day I’ll be working on green websites, on my laptop, from my all-natural backyard, eating organic food, dressed in earth-friendly clothes, and appreciating small bits of the natural world that float across my consciousness. I actually do that every day (weather-permitting for being outside of course). At this point the worst thing I do, hands-down, is fly in jets. And I DO like to fly in jets.

-Starre Vartan, founder of, author and web editor of

I will be doing what I seem to do a lot of – talking. This year at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC and at the Hopkins school here in New Haven. My generation has been a generation of great talkers and short on real action. So I recently joined the protest of the Capitol Hill power plant in D.C. – a great event even if the local police refused to honor our civil disobedience with arrests.

-Gus Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, former Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, and founder of the World Resources Institute and co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

I am organizing Earth Night, a big event with Earth Day NY and Green Drinks NYC held at Environment Furniture on Broadway near 18th – super fun night! We are working on a local store fashion show of sorts – highlighting the good threads you can purchase locally while sipping on local organic beverages and appetizers. Advance tix $20 or $30 at the door and a percentage of all proceeds goes to Earth Day NY.

Personally, I am planting a window bed of wildflowers and herbs from The Seed Project.

-Margaret Lydecker, founder Green Drinks NYC

For Earth Day (which also happens to be my birthday), I’m helping to plant vegetable gardens in urban areas around the country in partnership with Campbell’s Soup. We’re launching Help Grow Your Soup, where anyone can get free tomato seeds from Campbell’s (just type in a UPC code from a can of soup to redeem) to grow their own vegetables in their backyard. These seeds are the same seeds from tomatoes used in Campbell’s iconic soups. I’ll also be turning 32 that day, which will mark my 20-year anniversary in environmental activism (I founded an environmental group at age 12 on my birthday), too.

-Danny Seo, green designer to the stars, green entrepreneur, author and media personality

I will be at the Fishermen’s Ball, the Riverkeeper annual ball, honoring Pete Seeger and recognizing the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s visit to the Hudson River. It will raise money for advocacy to fight Indian Point [nuclear power plant], GE, and all the bad guys on the Hudson. From the Obama administration on down, the environment has become a centerpiece of daily effort, it’s a centerpiece of the stimulus package, a centerpiece of the energy plan. A lot of people have integrated an environmental ethic, by trying to figure out ways to reduce their carbon burdens, by buying healthy foods, and other ways. After Earth Day, I don’t think that’s something mothers forget about, or anyone else forgets about.

-Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., leading environmental attorney, author and radio host

On Earth Day I’ll be at my desk moderating traffic and posts, and helping our writers put out the best content they can, because Earth Day is like Christmas for us. A few years ago, some members of the green community turned their backs on Earth Day, saying it was a meaningless holiday. I can’t say I was completely immune to that sentiment; general enthusiasm for the event had fallen a bit flat and it seemed old-fashioned. Really, we rationed, shouldn’t every day be Earth Day?

But the truth is, Earth Day is a time when thousands of people who wouldn’t necessarily identify themselves as environmentalists are inspired to learn about various aspects of green living, nature or energy issues. So I see it as our duty to capture their attention when we can, and take the opportunity to help them move from awareness to action. It’s easy to start going green, but it won’t be easy to surmount the massive environmental challenge the globe faces right now. We need as many people to join this revolution as we can.

Outside of work, I’ve set Earth Day as my deadline for a few of my green New Year’s resolutions. That means there will officially be a pet waste composter somewhere in my yard by April 22! If I’m lucky, my farmer Karla’s first few spring crops will be ready for picking, and I’ll probably invite some friends over for light fare and local brews to make a toast!

-Meaghan O’Neill, editor-in-chief of TreeHugger and

BRIAN HOWARD is the Home and Eco-Tips Editor of The Daily Green.