Earth Day Events and History on the 45th Anniversary

The drive to make earth day celebrations annual— rather than once a decade — started in New Hampshire

Bruce Anderson was still in college when the first Earth Day took place in 1970; he was writing his Master’s thesis on solar energy. Like a lot of people at the time, he was waking up to the damage that was being done to the environment and wanted to do something about it.

 “Earth Day up to that time was the loudest environmental call to action in our history,” Anderson says. “Much of its power came from its call to individual action. There are countless things we can change in our lives to lessen the impact and create a healthier environment.” One important  individual action came from then-President Richard Nixon, who signed the executive order that created the Environmental Protection Agency.

Anderson’s early interest in the environment grew over the years when Earth Days were only celebrated every decade. As the 1990 celebration was approaching, Anderson, then living in Harrisville, got a call from Denis Hayes, a good friend who had managed the national celebration of Earth Days in 1970 and 1980, and was again in 1990. He asked Anderson to head up plans for New Hampshire’s celebration. Anderson agreed, but soon found himself “floored” to discover there were no plans to maintain the momentum by making it an annual day rather than an anniversary event every 10 years.

He contacted Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson, considered the father of Earth Day, and found he too was dismayed it wasn’t an annual event. “So we started Earth Day USA together to make it an annual day,” Anderson says. “He was chair and I was president.”

Ask Anderson why he took on the task, and he says he “couldn’t help it. I was in the right place at the right time with the right amount of passion.”

He has since handed off the job to others, moving south to the Washington, DC, area where he’s working to “develop and commercialize an approach to solar power that can operate 24 hours a day, regardless of weather, and to be competitive with coal, without subsidies.”

At the 45th anniversary of the first Earth Day, how does he characterize where the Earth stands? “The Earth will be fine. Life is remarkably resilient and will rebound somehow in its own time and in its own way once we learn how to live in balance with it. But it’s people I’m concerned about — the suffering of people throughout the world from water, soil, ocean and air pollution; drought; changing climate; starvation; rising oceans. It will get worse before it gets better, much worse.”

But he believes that “innovations from an ever-increasing number of human brains, now seven billion and counting, will win the race. My hope is that more and more people will feel empowered to act.”

Earth Day Events

April 11: Earth Day Festival-Tread Lightly
The Massabesic Audubon Center in Auburn is teaming up with the Student Conservation Association to celebrate the Earth and bring together the whole family. Visitors will learn about different ways to keep the world clean through demonstrations and educational activities.

April 18: Earth Day Barn Sale Beaver Brook in Hollis is welcoming all to celebrate Earth Day and shop at its two-level barn, full of antiques, jewelry, books, household items and much more at great prices. Proceeds go toward The Beaver Brook trails and programs.

April 25 (rain date Sunday, April 26): Earth Day Volunteer Garden Clean Up Day The Strawbery Banke Museum is welcoming volunteers to help beautify its Historical Gardens. Volunteers can bring their favorite dishes and enjoy a potluck lunch following the garden work.

April 25: Kennebunk Savings Rescue Run: Race for Marine Mammals The Seacoast Science Center in Rye is celebrating Earth Day by hosting a beautiful, scenic 5k run through the forest and along the shore. The run supports marine mammals and raises awareness for a clean and safe environment.

May 16: Stonyfield Earth Day 5k/ Earth Day Fair Stonyfield is hosting a 5k race and fair to celebrate the Earth and all its natural glory. The race is fun for all ages and is followed by a free Earth Day fair full of live music, food, and educational activities.

Various Dates: Beach Cleanup The Blue Ocean Society works toward maintaining clean and beautiful New Hampshire beaches by hosting public cleanups. Varied dates are offered, but groups of 10 or more are welcome to schedule their own cleanup.