The Magic of Earth Day
If Not You, Who? If Not Now, When?
By Peter Drekmeier


Imagine what would happen if everyone who cared about the environment did something about it. What if students and employees worked to improve the practices of their schools and workplaces, and cities adopted policies that encouraged clean technologies and less waste? What if politicians enacted and enforced strong environmental laws, and everyone began taking personal steps to live in greater harmony with the Earth?

Over the next year and a half this will happen, and we will call it the magic of Earth Day.

Each April, millions around the world observe Earth Day. Earth Day is about seizing opportunities to turn environmental concern into action. It is founded on the belief that everyone has a role to play in making the world a healthier place to live. By embracing our leadership potential, we can help empower others to participate in the process of creating a sustainable future. This annual observance is a powerful symbol to catalyze and empower the billions of people around the globe to create a better world each and every day. Working together we are now aware that we are consuming the natural world. Working together, we can also protect and restore it, in all the myriad ways that are needed.

One of my favorite Earth Day stories took place during the 1990 campaign. Abhay Bhushan, a native of Allahabad, India and a 22-year citizen of the United States, had been helping Earth Day 1990's international team communicate with organizers abroad. In the late evenings, after a full day at work, Abhay would faithfully arrive at the office to phone colleagues in India who were just starting their days.

As Earth Day approached, Abhay knew there was even more he could do. So one day he approached his boss at Xerox and asked if he might spend one quarter of his time "greening" the company. To Abhay's pleasant surprise, his boss suggested that this become his full-time position. So Abhay went to work, creating policies and procedures for Xerox to reuse, remanufacture and recycle old equipment, recycle toner cartridges, and minimize and reuse recycled packaging materials. He went on to help Xerox use electricity more efficiently by installing motion-sensor lighting, energy efficient lights and ballasts, and automatic power-saving sensors for work stations not in use. Not only did Abhay help Xerox become a greener company, he also began saving them more than $200 million annually. That's $2 billion in savings between Earth Day 1990 and Earth Day 2000.

With millions of others taking action worldwide, Earth Day 1990 had a profound cumulative impact. Now, let's think even bigger for the new millennium!

Introducing the Earth Day Network
Founded in January 1995, just prior to the 25th anniversary of Earth Day, the Earth Day Network is a non-profit organization with offices in Seattle, New York, Pensacola and San Diego, and with affiliates and supporters worldwide. Earth Day provides ways for local groups, and indeed everyone, everywhere to be a part of creating local and global change. For Earth Day 1999, we are inviting local organizers to announce their participation in the Earth Day 2000 campaign as part of their activities. Our goal is to create ways for local groups to tie-in and build the largest global demonstration ever for Earth Day 2000.

Anyone can join the Earth Day Network by becoming an affiliate or an individual, organizational or business supporter. We invite your participation and your contributions.

Peter Drekmeier is Earth Day Network's Executive Director. Do you have an Earth Day story you'd like to share? If so, please send it to: Earth Day Network, P.O. Box 9827, San Diego CA 92169 or e-mail to  

To locate Earth Day events worldwide or near you, visit us at 

The 10th annual Make the Connections San Diego Earth-Fair in Balboa Park will take place on Sunday, April 18th from 10am-5pm, with the Children's Earth Parade (all species welcome) departing from the Organ Pavilion at 10:30 am. For 24-hour event and transportation information call: (619) 496-6666. Exhibitors and volunteers call (619) 272-7370.


Return to the March/April  Index page