Back in 2010, in the months preceding the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day an ambitious campaign, called A Billion Acts of Green was launched to inspire individuals all around the world, to make a commitment to reduce their impact on the planet.
Today, The Earthday Network, announced that they have reached the halfway point, with 500 million pledges received. The pledges range from things like promising to recycle and buy less plastic, to create programs for the use of organic agricultural methods, or create a radio show about ecological actions. The most popular pledges are:
- Plant a garden at school or home (3412)
- Change out light bulbs (1854)
- Organize an Earth Day event (1673)
- Eliminate the use of toxic chemicals in home and garden (1227)
The campaign and its title are somewhat reminiscent of George H.W. Bush’s “Thousand Points of Light,” which was an attempt to replace the government-supported social safety net with the work of volunteers coordinated by non-profit charitable institutions. But unlike Bush Sr.’s rhetoric, this program leverages the widespread use of the internet to reach out to individuals at every level of society while serving as a model and a testament to the power of individual action.
Earth Day 2012, whose theme will be Mobilize The Earth™ will serve as a springboard for a final sprint to the finish line, which is in Rio De Janeiro this June at the UN Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. This doesn’t leave a lot of time, which is why supporters are redoubling their efforts right now. Celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton and James Cameron are pledging acts of green. Cameron organized a 1 million tree planting initiative. Leonardo pledged $1 million to WWF and Norton started the fundraising website Crowdrise and helped raise $1 million for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust by running in the NY marathon with a group of Maasai warriors.
Regardless of whether the one billion mark is reached or not, the program has clearly been a success. “There are so many wonderful stories from this campaign, from the mother who started a recycling program in a small Louisiana town – to the guy who said that he broke up with his girlfriend because she wouldn’t recycle,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. “And once we reach a billion, we’re going to take all of them all to world leaders to show them the breadth of support for strong, coordinated action to protect the environment.”
Ten universities in China participated in month long carbon-reduction efforts in their communities. Morocco pledged to plant a million trees. Two hundred Catholic organizations contributed 100,000 acts of green. Even in war-torn Afghanistan, village leaders worked to implement recycling and education programs aimed at reducing impact.
RP Siegel, PE, is the President of Rain Mountain LLC. He is also the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water. Now available on Kindle.
Follow RP Siegel on Twitter.