By Jeff Swartz
In 1970, 20 million people joined in the first nationwide environmental protest – to rally for clean air, clean water and a healthy, sustainable environment.
That first Earth Day was built on shared beliefs – that our environment was in need of attention and protection and preservation, and that through the power of civic leadership, we could do something about it. All the individuals and groups that had been fighting against different injustices – oil spills, toxic dumps, pesticides, power plants – were united under the banner of making a positive impact on the world and the environment. And it worked.
Progress has been made. And yet there is still much work to be done. Environmental pollution continues to be a major concern, particularly for our children. An estimated 1,500 new chemicals are being manufactured and released into the environment every year. The world’s fresh water supplies are in rapid decline at a time when global demand for that water continues to grow.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the problems of the world. But one person can make a difference.
In fact, there is virtually no limit to the impact and the power that one person, acting with passion and purpose, can achieve.
And together, a group of these passionate, purposeful individuals can move mountains.
I’ve seen it in action. On Earth Day, April 22, Timberland hosted more than 5,000 volunteers at more than 125 service events across the globe, generating close to 34,000 hours in community service.
That’s a lot of people in a lot of countries pulling on their boots, picking up shovels and rakes, making a positive, sustainable impact on our environment.
And we’re not the only ones getting in on the game: Across the country and around the world, companies like Starbucks, Aveda and others are mobilizing their employee population, taking time out from the “business” of business and sharing their time and resources to strengthen their communities and contribute to the health of their environment.
Earth Day is an opportunity to reflect on the good that has been done and the work that has been accomplished.
But it’s also our opportunity to put up or shut up about the environmental issues that plague our world.
We have a choice. We can shake our heads at the damage being done to our environment and lament that there’s nothing to be done – or we can get up, get dirty, get involved and do something about it.
Jeff Swartz, is CEO of Timberland.