Recently, I was thinking back to some early Earth Day activities. Do you remember when everyone was asked to turn off the lights for one hour? Today, going without electricity for an hour may not seem quite as big an ask as it was 15 years ago. But, at the time, Earth Day’s mission was highly focused on getting society to think about what it would be like to “go without,” to respect the planet more and to realize that every person can make a difference in protecting it.
We, and the Earth Day mission, have come a long way. Society’s awareness and sense of responsibility has grown tremendously. Consequently, Earth Day’s calls to action have gotten more intricate, work toward a larger, universal impact and reflect a greater sense of urgency.
Another fundamental change in Earth Day’s evolution is, well, fundamental change. Today, the mission of Earth Day is far removed from people taking action for one hour of one day within the year. Earth Day now seeks to mobilize us to make lifestyle changes that last a lifetime.
At American Water, we have adopted this “all day, every day” attitude for corporate responsibility and draw upon it in order to advance technologies and procedures that help reduce our own carbon footprint and work toward even greater water conservation. For example, we take a proactive approach to conserving energy and water in our processes as well as maintain a portfolio of alternative energy supplies that greatly help us reduce greenhouse emissions. We’re continually developing better technologies to help us detect leaks as quickly as possible or even locate them before they happen. Lastly, we are very proud of our Environmental Grant Program that encourages people in the communities we serve to pursue their own initiatives for environmental protection and sustainability.
I cite these examples not to sing our own praises, but to illustrate the concept of fundamental change, as well as the impact of fundamental change. It is something that can be done by individuals, households, businesses and entire industries—and when it is the entire planet will benefit.