It’s been 40 years since that first Earth Day in 1970. Richard Nixon was president of the United States, and was signing environmental legislation left and right for clean air, water, soils, endangered species and creating the EPA. Republicans were as likely to fight for environmental causes as Democrats. Gas sold for 36 cents a gallon, milk for a buck. The average house price was $26,000, and there were a third fewer Americans than in 2010. Current hot environmental issues like climate change and ozone depletion were just blips on most people’s radar. River clean ups, recycling and pollution prevention were the issues of the day. This month, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Here are 40 movements that I think have been making a difference since that first celebration all those years ago. Some are radical, some practical, some political, some apolitical, some old, some new; you may agree with some and despise others. But the diversity is heartening. Browse through them and support the ones you like- or start your own. Remember, Dante said that the hottest places in hell were reserved for those folks who in time of great moral crisis maintained their neutrality. What’s a greater moral crisis than saving the planet?
350.org - 350.org is an international environmental organization with the goal of cutting atmospheric CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 350.org takes its name from NASA scientistJames E. Hansen, who posited in a 2007 paper that 350 parts-per-million of CO2 in the atmosphere is a safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point.
- Alliance for Climate Protection - The Alliance for Climate Protection, founded by Al Gore, a non-profit, non-partisan organization , 5 million strong, that is committed to educating the global community about the urgency of implementing comprehensive solutions to the climate crisis.
- Center for a New American Dream - The Center for a New American Dream is a non-profit organization promoting sustainable consumption. Greenopolis blogger Bob Ferris is currently Executive Director.
- The Climate Project - The Climate Project (TCP) was founded by Nobel laureate Al Gorein 2006 and is a non-profit organization dedicated to calling attention to global problems associated with climate change. It is a grassroots environmental organization whose mission is to raise awareness to the issue of climate change by means of providing seminars, training and educational presentations worldwide.
- Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) - Ceres is a national network of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies and investors to Integrate sustainability into capital markets for the health of the planet and its people.
- Conservation International - Conservation International (CI) is a nonprofit that seeks to protect Earth’s biodiversity ”hotspots,” high-biodiversity wilderness areas as well as important marine regions around the globe. CI is known for partnerships with local non-governmental organizations and indigenous peoples.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - (IPCC) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific intergovernmental body tasked with evaluating the risk of climate change caused by human activity. Established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP), the IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President of the United States Al Gore.
- Earthwatch Institute - Earthwatch Institute is an international non-profit, founded in 1971 to promote action and understanding necessary to sustain the Natural environment. Earthwatch supports scientific field research and education by offering volunteers the opportunity to join research teams around the world to collect field data in the areas such as wildlife conservation, rainforest ecology, marine science and archaeology.
- Equal Exchange - Dedicated to fair trade with small-scale farmers in the developing world,Equal Exchange envisioned a food system back in 1986 that empowers farmers and consumers, supports small farmer co-ops, and uses sustainable farming methods. They partner with co-operatives of farmers who provide high-quality organic coffees, teas,chocolates and snacks from all over the world.
- Forest Stewardship Council - The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. Its main tools for achieving this are standard setting, independent certification and labeling of forest products. This offers customers around the world the ability to choose products from socially and environmentally responsible forestry.
- Friends of the Earth - Friends of the Earth International (FOEI) is an international network of environmental organizations in 77 countries. FOEI is the world’s largest grassroots environmental network and they campaign on today’s most urgent environmental and social issues. They promote solutions that will help to create environmentally sustainable and socially just societies.
- Green America - Green America (formerly Co-op America) is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1982, with a mission is to harness the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.
- Green Belt Movement - The Green Belt Movement is an indigenous grassroots non-governmental organization based in Nairobi, Kenya that organizes poor rural women in Kenya to plant trees, combat deforestation, restore their main source of fuel for cooking, generate income, and stop soil erosion. Professor Wangari Maathai established the organization in 1977, and has incorporated advocacy and empowerment for women, eco-tourism, and just economic development into the Green Belt Movement.
- Green Cross International - Green Cross International , founded by former Soviet leaderMikhail Gorbachev in 1993,works to help ensure a just, sustainable and secure future for all by fostering a value shift and cultivating a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility in humanity’s relationship with nature.” Thirty-one countries have established Green Cross organizations which are part of Green Cross International.
- Greenpeace Greenpeace is a NGO with offices in over 41 countries. Its goal is to “ensure the ability of the earth to nurture life in all its diversity“. Greenpeace uses direct action,lobbying and research to achieve its goals. Greenpeace does not accept funding from governments, corporations or political parties, relying on 2.86 million individual supporters and foundation grants.
- Green Schools Alliance - The Green Schools Alliance (GSA) is an alliance of K to12 public, private and independent schools uniting to take action on climate change and the environment, with thousands of schools and millions of students engaged worldwide.
- Environmental Defense Fund Environmental Defense Fund or EDF is a US-based nonprofitenvironmental advocacy group. The group is known for its work on issues including global warming, ecosystem restoration, oceans, and human health. It is nonpartisan, and its work often advocates market-based solutions to environmental problems.
- Keep America Beautiful - Keep America Beautiful is an environmental organization founded in 1953. It is the largest community improvement organization in the United States, with approximately 580 affiliate organizations (similar to local chapters) and more than 17,000 participating communities in their signature annual event – the Great American Cleanup. Keep America Beautiful focuses on three key issues: litter prevention, the waste hierarchy: waste reduction, reuse, recycling and community beautification.
- League of Conservation Voters - The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is a political advocacy organization founded in 1969 by David Brower in the early years of the environmental movement. LCV’s mission is to “advocate for sound environmental policies and to elect pro-environmental candidates who will adopt and implement such policies.
- National Audubon Society - The National Audubon Society is a non-profit dedicated to conservancy. Incorporated in 1905, it is one of the oldest of such organizations in the world. It is named in honor of John James Audubon, an ornithologist and naturalist who painted, cataloged, and described the birds of North America in his famous book Birds of America published in sections between 1827 and 1838.
- National Wildlife Federation - The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is the United States’ largest private, nonprofit conservation education and advocacy organization, with over 4 million members and supporters in 48 state-affiliated organizations. The NWF fosters a “national network of like-minded state and territorial groups, seeking balanced, common-sense solutions to environmental problems that work for wildlife and people.” Its mission statement is “to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.”
- The Natural Step - The Natural Step researches the science of sustainability and links it to real world applications through a proven, science based model that helps communities and businesses better understand and integrate environmental, social, and economic considerations into their actions.
- The Nature Conservancy - The Nature works to preserve the plants, animals, and naturalcommunities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy works in more than 30 countries. The Conservancy has over one million members, and has protected more than 69,000 square kilometers (17 million acres) in the United States and more than 473,000 square kilometers (117 million acres) internationally. The Nature Conservancy rates as one of the most trusted national organizations in Harris Interactive polls every year since 2005.
- Northwest Earth Institute - Northwest Earth Institute develops innovative courses and programs that empower individuals and organizations to protect Earth. These programs emphasize individual responsibility, supportive community, and the need to walk lightly on and to take action for the earth. NWEI courses have been offered to thousands in the US and Canada in homes, businesses and organizations.
- Population Connection - Population Connection (formerly known as Zero Population Growth) was founded in 1968 by Paul R. Ehrlich, Richard Bowers, and Charles Remington, in the wake of the impact from Ehrlich’s best-selling book, The Population Bomb. They started educating young people nearly forty years ago with their Population Education program. They also advocate for action to stabilize the world population through voluntary measures, primarily through increased access to reproductive health services and supplies.
- Raging Grannies - The Raging Grannies are activist groups in many cities and towns in different countries. They are social justice activists, all women old enough to begrandmothers, who dress up in clothes that mock stereotypes of older women, and sing songs at protests. They typically write the lyrics themselves, putting their political messages to the tunes of well known songs. Their activism includes peace and environmental causes.
- Rainforest Alliance - The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of tropical forests. The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior.
- Rainforest Action Network - (RAN) Rainforest Action Network campaigns for the forestsand rainforests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through grassroots organizing, education and non-violent direct action. RAN pioneers market campaigns against large multinational corporations using grassroots activism and media work to advocate for changes in environmental policies. RAN relies on grassroots organizing, media stunts, and the use of non-violent civil disobedienceto pressure corporations into publicly adopting environmental policies that address issues ranging from deforestation to global warming.
- Republicans for Environmental Protection - Republicans for Environmental Protection(REP) is a national organization of United States Republican Party voters formed in 1995. REP’s purpose is to strengthen the Republican Party’s stance on environmental issues and support efforts to conserve natural resources and protect human and environmental health. REP boasts a nationwide grassroots membership of Republicans who have united around a strong conservation and environmental stewardship ethic. REP has members in 49 states and formal chapters in 10 states. Their slogan is “Conservation is Conservative,” They asserts that conservation and responsible environmental stewardship are core conservative values that extend from concepts such as prudence, personal responsibility, thrift and that society is a partnership among past, present and future generations.
- Surfrider Foundation - The Surfrider Foundation USA is a grassroots non-profit environmental organization that works to protect and preserve the world’s oceans, waves, and beaches. The Surfrider Foundation largely focuses its work on such issues as water quality, beach access, beach and surf spot preservation, and sustaining marine and coastal ecosystems.
- Tellus Institute - The Tellus Institute is a non-profit research and policy organization based in Boston, Massachusetts. Its mission is to advance the transition to a sustainable, equitable, and humane global civilization. Founded in 1976, The Tellus Institute conducts research projects and produces reports on topics such as energy, water, sustainable communities, corporate social responsibility, and climate change. Greenopolis Managing Director Paul Ligon was a Tellus Fellow for 11 years.
- UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) - The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) coordinates United Nations environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices. It was founded in 1972 as a result of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.
- WaterKeeper Alliance - Waterkeeper Alliance is an environmental organization founded in 1999, responding to a growing movement of organizations with the name Riverkeeper, Baykeeper, Soundkeeper, and other related “keeper” names. Waterkeeper Alliance unites all Waterkeeper organizations, coordinating and covering issues affecting 182 Waterkeepers that work to protect rivers, lakes, bays, sounds, and other water bodies around the world. It’s the fastest growing grassroots environmental movement in the world, spanning six continents. Each Waterkeeper organization is devoted to the preservation of specific watersheds. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. serves as Chairman of Waterkeeper Alliance. There are Waterkeeper branches all over the Americas, as well as international branches, such as Vigilantes de Bahía Magdalena, or Magdalena Baykeeper and Hann Baykeeper in Dakar, Senegal.
- Wetlands International - Wetlands International is a global nonprofit working to sustain and restore wetlands and their resources for people and biodiversity. It is supported by government and NGO membership from around the world, with 20 regional, national or project offices working in over 100 countries to tackle the most pressing problems affecting wetlands.
- The Wilderness Society - The Wilderness Society is dedicated to protecting America’s wilderness. It was formed in 1935 by Aldo Leopold and 7 others and currently has over 300,000 members and supporters. One of The Wilderness Society’s strengths is building coalitions consisting of environmental groups, as well as representatives of the faith community, sportsmen, ranchers, scientists, business owners, and others. Another specialty is economic analysis, often enabling conservationists to strengthen the case for land protection by documenting that doing so would pay economic dividends.
- World Business Council for Sustainable Development - The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a CEO-led, global association of some 200 international companies dealing exclusively with business and sustainable development. The WBCSD sees itself as a catalyst for business to buy into the concept of sustainable development and to change the way they run their operations, and to advise the process of global policy development, by representing and promoting the role of business in achieving sustainable development.
- World Resources Institute - (WRI) The World Resources Institute (WRI) is an environmental think tank founded in 1982 with a staff of more than 100 scientists, economists, policy experts, business analysts, statistical analysts, mapmakers, and communicators developing and promoting policies with the intention of protecting the Earth and improving people’s lives.WRI organizes its work around four key goals: Climate, Energy & Transport,. Governance & Access; Markets & Enterprise and People & Ecosystems.
- Worldwatch Institute - The Worldwatch Institute is a globally-focused environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C. Worldwatch Institute develops and disseminates data, analysis, and strategies to create an environmentally sustainablesociety that meets human needs and confronts the 21st century challenges of climate change, resource degradation, population growth, and poverty. They publish The State of the World report, an annual assessment of urgent global environmental problems and the innovative ideas proposed and applied across the globe to address them.
- World Wide Fund for Nature - (WWF) The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is aninternational non-governmental organization working on issues regarding theconservation, research and restoration of the environment. It was formerly named theWorld Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in the United States and Canada. It is the world’s largest independent conservation organization with over 5 million supporters worldwide, working in more than 90 countries, supporting around 1300  conservation and environmental projects around the world. Its mission is “to halt and reverse the destruction of our environment”. Its work focuses on the conservation of forests,freshwater ecosystems, and oceans and coast. It is also concerned with endangered species, pollution and climate change.
- Your Name Here - it’s up to you next!
Of course we’ve left out thousands of groups, all making a difference – there could be 40 completely different versions of this list in each country! But we hope you’ll explore the work of these groups as a jumping off point on your own journey. Follow your passion to your gifts. Over the next 40 years and every year beyond, we have a planet to pass safely to future generations.
To add more suggestions to this list, visit our blog.
Greenopolis.com is dedicated to our users. We focus our attention on changing the world through recycling, waste-to-energy and conservation. We reward our users for their sustainable behaviors on our website, through our Greenopolis Tracking Stations and with curbside recycling programs.