Earth Day Is Not A Holiday For Shopping


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Starting every year around April 1, I start getting PR emails from companies wanting me to pitch their products in time for Earth Day, coming up on April 22. Last year I listed 7 Examples Of What Earth Day Isn’t About, and this year the hits keep coming. From “eco” trips requiring around-the-world flights to battery-powered candles to the Utah Board of Oil, Gas, & Mining Earth Day Awards (PDF), Earth Day has become a prime example of the corporate hijacking of a worldwide event which was started with only good intentions. It has become an annual event on par with Black Friday and Christmas, designed to sell and promote as much junk consumerism as possible all in the name of profits. Earth Day is now synonymous with the phrase “Celebrate the Earth by buying…,” as that is the single most common phrase that shows up at least 15 times a day in my email inbox from marketers; as such, Earth Day has become one giant greenwashing event.

No matter what any green blogs try to sell us “in honor of Earth Day”, we cannot shop our way to a cleaner planet. If you don’t need an item, buying it for the sake of Earth Day isn’t going to do anything to help the environment. Period. These marketers will try everything to get you to part with your hard-earned money in support of the planet, but don’t fall for it. If you truly want to do something in honor of the one day a year dedicated to the only home planet we have, try out a few of these ideas:

  • Volunteer for a town cleanup crew
  • Take a class in sustainable home gardening
  • Donate money to a worthwhile environmental charity (Please avoid the The Nature Conservancy)
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper about an eco-concern near you
  • Purge & donate some unneeded belongings to the needy
  • Go for a hike and enjoy the outdoors
  • Visit & support a National or State Park

Before buying something supposedly sold in support of the Earth, keep in mind that a vast majority of the things we buy are made from raw materials mined from the earth, often assembled by child labor, and usually imported all the way from China. While we all need to shop for the things we want from time to time, consuming products under the guise of “Earth Day” is an oxymoron.

And if you are a green journalist or blogger and receiving all these PR emails, write back to the PR agency and tell them what you think of their greenwashing attempts. Don’t fall for their motives of using Earth Day to sell product for profit. I have a template that I send right back to any agent trying to get me to greenwash for their client. If it changes one mind, I feel I have succeeded.

It’s time to take back Earth Day and restore it to its original intention — “For over 40 years, Earth Day has inspired and mobilized individuals and organizations worldwide to demonstrate their commitment to environmental protection and sustainability.” Let’s do just that.

Photo by Xanetia

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  1. Thank you for writing this. The whole point of Earth Day is to consume less, not to buy kitschy crap that we don’t need. I recognize that some of the companies promoting Earth Day sales make a genuine effort year round to produce sustainable products, and I’m happy to support some of them when I need those products. But I suspect they’re a minority.

  2. This is so true and needed to be said. People may wonder why I don’t post too many products to purchase on my blog, but as an environmentalist, I don’t want to promote unnecessary purchases that only harm the world.

  3. Great minds think alike! ha. I just posted on twitter that my company (YUM Scrub! Organics)will be closing on that day to celebrate our planet. And right after I saw this article was tweeted! We agree that “oconsuming products under the guise of “Earth Day” is an oxymoron.” I hope everyone realizes this and gets out to actually enjoy nature on Friday, instead of shopping! Great article!

  4. I totally agree with this, and would like to add wouldn’t it be nice if no Holidays were for shopping? I recently decided to buy nothing new for 1 month in honor of Earth Day. If it goes well I may take on this challenge more frequently!

  5. Thanks for this post. It’s so important to remember Earth Day isn’t about buying more- it’s all about less and appreciating what we have and what the earth has given us. I just went back to double check that I didn’t suggest buying anything in my posts on Earth Day-I didn’t! Phew…..

  6. Great post! I think Jennifer said it right: Earth Day is about consuming less.

    It’s also about all those activities you mentioned people could do instead of buying things.

    There’s so many ways to give back to the Earth instead of shopping: volunteering, reducing energy use, reusing and freecycling goods.

    Wouldn’t it be great if everyone–especially companies–took Earth Day as a time to reflect on how they’re helping to sustain the Earth and ensure its healthy future?

    Kudos to the commenters who have already decided to do this.


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