Speakers at the District’s Earth Day celebration issued a call to fight global warming and protect the environment Thursday on the National Mall.
D.C. kicked off its weekend-long celebration – the 40th one held in the city – with a day-long rally hosted by the Earth Day Network that featured music, dancers, speakers and environmental activities.
More than 50 nonprofits, governments and businesses participated this year. Similar events were held in cities around the country like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle.
Eric Harris, Earth Day Network’s Global Day of Conversation Manager, said his company utilized a program called the Global Day of Conversation during the rally. The program encourages people of all political affiliations to talk with participating elected officials about environmental issues.
“It’s all about taking the politics out of the environment,” Harris said.
The day’s activities included a rally against commercial whaling, with speakers ranging from Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Denis Hayes, the organizer of the first Earth Day in 1970 and the chair of this year’s Earth Day.
“The whole purpose is to send a message to Congress,” Hayes told the Washington Examiner about the events held on the Mall.
Many organizations running exhibits at the event said they were excited to be a part of the global event to pressure governments to enact better environmental policies.
Pedro Crespo, a representative of the Embassy of Bolivia and a recent GW graduate, said it is time for the Earth to have rights.
“Last century was the century of human rights, now the Earth needs rights,” Crespo said.
Numerous tents from companies across the country shared their environmentally friendly products with visitors. Nonprofit organizations also distributed pamphlets showing how people could conserve energy by changing their habits.
Proctor & Gamble’s Future Friendly program was on display during the event. Designed to help consumers save energy, conserve water and reduce waste, the program invited visitors to make a pledge to save the environment through Facebook or Twitter.
“It’s all about simple behavioral changes that can add up over time,” said Chris Chamberlain, a spokesman for P&G’s project. “P&G’s customers use about 3 billion products per day but in the last five years, the company has worked to cut energy usage by 50 percent in the last five years and by utilizing this program, Proctor & Gamble is committed to having its consumers do the same.”
The Pandora station, sponsored by “Avatar” director James Cameron, had face painting stations based on the Na’vi characters in the film and distributed plant seeds in a worldwide effort to plant one million trees.
Ryan Trachtenberg, an intern with the Earth Day Network, said more than 200 volunteers would help put on the weekend’s activities, which included a large concert on Sunday.
“On Thursday we [only] needed about 20 people, but we’re expecting 200 high school and college students, interns, and locals to help us make this a successful event.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: (April 29, 2010)
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Eric Harris was a political outreach director for Earth Day Network. He is a Global Day of Conversation Manager for the program.