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Blog - Earth Day

Who started this little Earth Day thing?

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Earth Day

Who would have thought this guy from the small town of Camas, Washington would have got this global movement started. Denis Hayes was born in Wisconsin, but grew up in Camas, Washington right next door to Vancouver, the home of Tree In A Box. Camas had a paper mill that had its own environmental impacts that he was able to experience firsthand. This included cleat cutting, uncontrolled sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide in the air and who knows what that spilled out into the Columbia river and caused massive fish kills. This would probably make anyone think “There has to be a better way.”

While pursuing his graduate studies at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard he was noticing the movements on campus for things like civil rights and the war in Vietnam and how that had grown movements nationally that were making an impact on society. Hayes simply thought if it worked for those issues, why would it not work for environmental and conservation issues. It also happened that Senator Gaylord Nelson was concerned with conservation issues as well.

Nelson was proposing an environmental teach-in on college campuses in April 1970, so Hayes traveled to DC for a 15 minute courtesy interview to see if he could get everything set to organize an event back at Harvard. Well it did not quite work out the way he thought and the 15 minute interview turned into meeting lasting a couple of hours. Well this meeting actually cultivated the tiny idea that turned into Earth Day and set Hayes on the path to coordinating Earth Day Events across the country to kick off on April 22, 1970.

So as we all know, Hayes was the right man for the job and we still celebrate Earth Day on April 22 and it has spread across our borders and is celebrated all around the globe!

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