How are you celebrating Earth Day?

Did you know that the first Earth Day celebration led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency? Environmental Awareness is a growing global movement encompassing clean air, clean water and endangered species protection. Around the world environmental groups are fighting against wildlife extinction, unlawful toxic waste disposal, oil spills, litter, raw sewage, contamination leaking from landfills, global warming, and the loss of our wilderness and forests. In recent years, more emphasis has been placed on finding environmental solutions in the field of clean air technology. Here are a few historical facts that raise our environmental consciousness:

  • After witnessing the devastation of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California former Wisconsin U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” campaign. He persuaded Congressman Pete McCloskey to serve as his co-chair and recruited Denis Hayes to fill the role as national coordinator to promote events across the land.
  • Chief Iron Eyes Cody, a Cree-Cherokee Indian and activist starred in a “Keep America Beautiful” PSA commercial during the 1970’s, which was supported by a coalition of companies involved in plastic, paper, tobacco, glass, aluminum and solid-waste. “The Crying Indian” spot that first aired on Earth Day in March 1971 won two Clio Awards and was named one of the top 100 advertising campaigns of the 20th Century by Ad Age Magazine.
  • The Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day during their 40th anniversary celebration as a powerful focal point where people could demonstrate their commitment to the environment. The importance of bringing environmental concerns to the masses continue to face many challenges from those who deny climate change, uncommunicative politicians, a disinterested public, a divided environmental community and well-funded oil lobbyists. Instead of allowing these challenges to overshadow and hinder the mission of raising environmental consciousness across this country, The Earth Day Network organized the following initiatives: Brought 225,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, amassed 40 million environmental service actions toward its 2012 goal of A Billion Acts of Green, launched an international 1-million tree planting initiative with Avatar director James Cameron and tripled its online base to over 900,000 community members.

As you travel to work or school, do you ever notice trash, cigarette butts, plastic and glass bottles scattered along the roadways? When you walk along a creek, beach or lake, have you noticed empty cups, beer or soda cans, Styrofoam containers or even those six-pack plastic rings that holds beverage cans and bottles together, lying along the shoreline? Scenes like this invoke us to think about what we are doing to the environment and to change the habits that will prove to be more destructive than we can imagine down the road.

There is an increased sense of urgency regarding our caretaking responsibilities for this planet. We must continue building a clean, healthy environment for generations to come. What environmental events are you organizing or involved in that brings environmental improvements to your local, national or global community? Tell us what you are doing at work, in your schools or individually to make an ecological difference. Are you recycling? Are you reducing your use of electricity? Are you planting more trees? Are you participating in or developing community gardens? Are you using more environmentally sustainable water bottles or reusable shopping bags at the grocery store? Weigh in on the discussion and make every day Earth Day!

“Organic” Bottled Water?

organic springs bottled water

The Australian Standard for organic products says that natural products like water cannot be labeled “organic.” But what if that label is part of the brand or company name?

Australian brands, Organic Springs, Active Organic, and Organic Falls sell purified tap water under the Active Organic Spring name, though the water is not organic and is not sourced from a spring. Legitimate organic producers are annoyed at companies that use the term in their brand names, as it can mislead consumers. “Organic” is a term that is typically used to describe agricultural produce, and not natural substances like water or air.

The company, in its defense, states that it is not actually claiming that the water is organic, though the term is used in the brand name. Still – the word can be misleading to consumers, no matter the context. The bottled water industry caught on to the power of this kind of advertising long ago when they began marketing their product with pictures of glaciers, mountains and freshwater springs on the bottles. These days, many consumers will blindly purchase a product labeled “organic”, simply because the word has such a powerful, positive connotation, even if they don’t know what the term itself really means. And some products labeled “organic” are not any healthier or better-tasting than their non-organic versions.

What do you think? If given the choice between a bottle simply labeled “purified tap water” and a bottle labeled “purified tap water” with “organic” in the brand name, which would you be more likely to choose?

Charity Tuesday: Water for People

Water for People logoThis #charitytuesday, we are calling attention to the work of Water for People, a nonprofit organization dedicated to innovative, sustainable clean water solutions in 11 different countries in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. Water for People is not just another water charity. The core value that makes this organization unique is sustainability – a drive to create solutions that last.

One of their most innovative solutions lies in a partnership with PlayPumps International and the Case Foundation. PlayPumps are small merry-go-rounds that pump water from underground into a water tank as children spin around on them. The water can then be drawn from a tap directly on the tank.

Water for People also works through local partnerships with government and private organizations, calling on communities to finance their own clean water efforts, and training them to build their own clean water and sanitation systems, so that the projects last beyond those that are normally funded by a one-time monetary grant. This is part of what makes their solutions  sustainable. What’s more, they recently launched an online platform called FLOW (Field Level Operations Watch) that uses mobile phones and GPS to monitor how well water systems in the developing world are functioning. This monitoring system ensures that broken pumps and wells in need of repair are not left untouched – once again ensuring that the projects last well beyond the first drop of clean water that’s produced.

Individuals and organizations can get involved with Water for People by spreading the word through online media, sponsoring fundraising events, shopping the online store or making a donation online.