Earth Week Littering

Discover how one Earth Week celebration ended with huge piles of litter left behind for park workers to clean.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
May/June 1971
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People who attended a Philidelphia rally for Earth Week left a huge pile of litter behind once the rally ended, leaving the mess to be cleaned up by park workers.

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Philadelphia is a city of passive people waiting for a leader. This week, the passive people are circulating a rumor that Earth Week is coming up. No one knows where or how, since Earth Week has virtually vanished from Philadelphia. This happened after the tremendous success it was last year. (Imagine what would have happened if it had flopped.)

Anyway, can we take this opportunity to remind you that people called conservationists existed in the world a long time before a few groovy people decided to capitalize on the idea? Support conservation any way you can—even if it's only through donations—and make it a point to take out some time next week to think about the ideals that Earth Week stands for. Do it on your own because there will be no leaders.

Here is our yuk for the week:

The 50,000 people who attended this year's opening day of Earth week left a mess of litter behind them—in contempt of the principles for which they ostensibly were gathered.

Don't laugh. If you were there, you will probably remember some piece of junk that you tossed on the grass—an innocent gum wrapper, perhaps. Your gum wrapper was only part of the trash that needed to be picked up by 34 park workers—representatives of the city, ironically an institution usually attacked for apathy. These 34 workers ended up filling more than six sanitation department trucks with the junk left behind by all the groovy people. Included among the detritus of the Earth Day ideal were cardboard fried chicken containers from Gino's, abandoned blankets, socks, shoes of all makes, kites, frisbees, pieces of sandwiches, fruit peelings, Coke bottles, newspapers, gum wrappers, and other non-classifiable junk.

What should have happened that day—right there while WIBG was parading its groovy rock bands around the stage—is that Nixon should have ordered a gigantic machine to swoop down from the sky and, in one moment of pure ecological ecstasy, it should have recycled the entire plateau and the phonies along with it.

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