For decades, companies have navigated the fine balance between environmental footprint and business prosperity, as the implementation of sustainable practices has been viewed as a detriment to success. However, it has become increasingly clear in recent years that environmental strategy is key to a healthy economy and a thriving global market. Consequently, Earth Day brings to the fore the importance of climate action and holds corporations responsible for their environmental footprint, as many companies across the world remain overtly stagnant.
THE MAKING OF A MOVEMENT
Occurring each year on April 22nd, Earth Day celebrates sustainability and teaches greener practices to welcome a healthier world. The important annual event was first established in 1970 in response to an increasingly industrial world, which had no regard for the ramifications of pollutants or carbon footprint. Furthermore, due to a lack of awareness of environmental issues, there was a noticeable absence of legislature or a regulatory body overseeing the issues of climate change.
Identifying a noticeable gap in legislation and corporate accountability, US Senator Gaylord Nelson was a pioneer for environmental change in America, particularly following the disastrous oil spillages in California in 1969. Therefore, being inspired by the anti-war protests at the time, Senator Nelson and his associates organized campaigns across universities, subsequent other organizations and faith groups. As such, Earth Day set a precedent for environmental campaigns, which took the national American media by storm, inspiring over 20 million young Americans, 10 percent of the total population at the time, to act in response to the changing planet.
Today, Earth Day has exceeded its status as a national celebration, to become an international movement. With a membership of over one billion companies across an excess of 193 countries, it is one of the world’s most impactful movements. Thus, through the alignment with Earth Day’s environmental social governance (ESG) goals, global companies are at the heart of transformative environmental action.
PLANTING THE SEED
With the powerful theme of ‘Invest in Our Planet‘, the idea of investment is an all too familiar concept for global entities. This year will be the second time that this theme has been used to bring together governments, corporations and institutions, to create an expanding stronghold of over one billion people. Consequently, it seems necessary to take advantage of the capabilities of organizations to combat carbon emissions, as global businesses are by far the biggest contributors to the damaging factors of climate change.
The implementation of some simple sustainable strategies can have many advantageous effects on the profitability and values of a company. Placing sustainability at the core of the business reflects a modern corporate strategy that reduces overall operating costs and expands a sustainable investment portfolio. Additionally, businesses can also make simple changes, such as going paperless or offering biking-to-work incentives, which are small but mighty steps towards incorporating the values of ESG and creating a healthier planet.
Businesses also have the chance to offset their carbon output by planting a forest, as part of the Canopy Project; a fantastic initiative that has overseen tens of millions of trees being planted across the world. With worldwide forest coverage shrinking by an average of 4.7 million hectares per year, Earth Day’s Canopy Project is vital in aiding struggling forestation areas and rehabilitating areas impacted by natural disasters.
Another less obvious solution that Earth Day characterises is the promotion of climate literacy. Through contributing to Earth Day this April, businesses can be a part of an environmental revolution between education and climate change. Thus, the Climate and Environmental Literacy Campaign facilitates a meaningful integrated climate and environmental education initiative which urges the importance of civic duty on younger generations, whom will be the most impacted by the dangers of climate change. Since the campaign started in 2020, climate literacy is at the core of the school curriculum. Subsequently, over 95 percent of primary and secondary education in the US and beyond have taken part in Earth Day, reaching classrooms in 149 countries.
With 2023 marking its 23rd anniversary, Earth Day is a vital call to arms to progress climate action, by holding governments accountable for their carbon contributions, as well as encouraging companies to utilize innovative solutions to tackle the crisis. Therefore, Earth Day 2023 wants to invest in our planet to create a sustainable and environmentally responsible world.