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Robert Redford: the importance of Earth Day


Image: NASA

On its 39th anniversary, Earth Day still feels vital to me, but I know that some of you out there think that its time has passed. Every day should be Earth Day, you say. Choosing just one, single day to say you care about the planet we call home — what good is that?

The first Earth Day came at the end of a decade in which social activism drove this nation’s political agenda. Moved by a desire to create that better world, we got together to fight for change the only way a large group of like-minded people could: we laced up our shoes and walked side-by-side. When you have to get together in person, well, you obviously need a specific day to meet up. And that day turned out to be Wednesday, April 29, 1970.

Some of us who fought for this country’s first environmental protections make the mistake of assuming that because young people today are less likely to be found marching down the National Mall as the shopping mall, that they must not care as deeply as we did when we were young. But apathy has not replaced idealism. Idealism just looks a little different these days.

This generation uses new tools to express itself and influence political decisions. They connect with one another in more ways than we could have imagined back in 1970: blogs, email petitions, YouTube videos, Twitter and Facebook. They’re finding new ways to express their political views, and they do it every second of every day.

Lately, I’ve come around to their way of thinking. I’m still standing up for environmental protections for the places I hold dear, but like so many of today’s new activists, I’ve hung up my marching boots and taken to the blogosphere. You’ll find me expressing my views at the Huffington Post, NRDC’s Greenlight, and Sundance Channel.

So what good is Earth Day? It’s a day that reminds us to take a stand every day and fight for the places we hold dear. So today, pause for a moment and take full advantage of the unprecedented array of tools we have for connecting with others and expressing our views. Speak up on Facebook, or Twitter, or go one step further and join me at NRDC’s Greenlight. In today’s world, you’re a reporter too. Stand up for the people, creatures, and lands that inspire you to protect the environment. Reach out and tell the world about what’s happening in the places you hold dear. Make your voices heard.