When the Earth Day movement started in 1970, it sought to create a powerful platform to raise awareness about environmental concerns. Senator Gaylord Nelson, credited with starting the movement, envisioned it would kick off a decade of environmental action.
Now 50 years later, that vision remains — and we can still see how much the day means to millions of people around the world.
Among those people is actor Ed Begley Jr., who holds seven Emmy Award nominations and is well-known for his consistent commitment to living sustainably. As it turns out, Earth Day was a big inspiration for him to commit the last 50 years to living greener.
With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we thought we’d share Ed story — a story that shows how powerful movements like Earth Day can truly be.
Earth Day Kickstarted Ed’s Green Lifestyle
When we sat down with Ed to chat about his experience on the first Earth Day, he told theRising that the “days and weeks that followed … [were] more meaningful.” He began to gradually shift his lifestyle, became a vegetarian, recycled and composted, and took public transportation.
He also bought an electric car. To him, Earth Day was a call for action. Living in California, he had seen the effects of pollution that seeped into everyday life. He knew the air and water needed cleaning and it was almost a necessity for Ed to take immediate action.
A strong view of his is that “coming together as a group in protest is very important.”
After all, Earth Day’s attendance has multiplied by 25 over the past 50 years — and continues to grow. And the immense impact that activism has made shows itself through public figures like Greta Thunberg, among others.
Ed Commits to Sustainability in His Daily Life
For even the smallest tasks in his life, Ed finds creative ways to make them energy efficient. For instance, he uses an electricity-generating bicycle to toast bread and has transformed his house into a LEED platinum home. Ed’s show, Living with Ed, features his journey to achieving a small carbon footprint. It also follows a friendly competition with scientist Bill Nye where the two try to attain the smallest footprint.
When it comes to making an impact, he emphasizes three pillars: personal action, legislative action, and corporate change. To tangibly make progress, Ed believes it’s necessary to “pursue all [pillars] with equal vigor” — the idea that change can only occur when all parts of society come together to work for it. And Ed is optimistic about this being possible.
‘Start Small and Build’
Reflecting on his journey as an activist, Ed shows us how much he cares about “starting small and building.”
“Everybody needs to do what they can. Do something. And do it today,” he adds.
With the 50th Earth Day here, take time to make an impact on your community. Do something — regardless how small — even if it’s simply making a commitment to recycling more in 2020.
Some celebrities have made commitments to sustainability and there’s no reason we can’t too.
Sonia John is a Writer at The Rising mainly covering the intersection of businesses and sustainability. You can pitch her stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.