Forty years ago, over twenty million people turned out across the country to show concern for our
planet in what is still the largest mass demonstration in US history. Earth Day 1970 showed the country
and the world that there was broad-based support for environmental issues; the public outpouring launched the modern environmental movement.
Hundreds of local groups formed to organize events and actions that made the vision of Earth Day a reality. The Ecology Center in Berkeley was one of those organizations. Today we continue this work of turning ideas into reality and making the visionary mainstream.
Conceived in 1969 and granted nonprofit status on Earth Day 1970, the Ecology Center was born as a
local institution that could serve as both a hub and a springboard for environmental efforts—a place where people could meet, get informed, and get active pursuing policies and projects to reduce the negative environmental impact humans have on the planet.
After four decades, our environmental movement has gone through a lot of changes, with large advocacy groups pushing for national and international change, and issue-specific groups filling every niche in the environmental spectrum. Yet the need for organizations like the Ecology Center has never been stronger. As every aspect of our society begins to awaken to the need to be a part of local solutions, individuals, governments, businesses, institutions, and social groups are reaching out to find examples of how to take ideas into action, and how to reduce harmful impacts in real and meaningful ways.
The Ecology Center helps people find ways to make positive change, whether through example, access to products, or just the right information to make it easier to take the next step. For forty years the Ecology Center has played a central role in helping Berkeley and the region be one of the most environmentally conscious and sustainable cityscapes on the planet. From pioneering recycling to pushing the boundaries of what a farmers’ market should be, from banning Styrofoam containers to supporting Zero Waste policies across the region, the Ecology Center has led and supported
the key local efforts of our time.
As we turn forty, we are as engaged and passionate about the work as ever, providing current, relevant, and consistent support to help people from all walks of life address their environmental challenges. We reach out to people who would not consider themselves to be environmentalists and support whatever positive efforts people make. Our environmental hotline answers questions about everything from ants to the ozone, and our EcoDirectory connects people with the vast community of experts, agencies, and businesses prepared to put ideas into action.
At the policy level, we recently helped develop the solid waste, food and farming elements of Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan, making it one of the most comprehensive municipal climate plans to date. We are actively involved in passing a bag reduction ordinance to eliminate disposable plastic bags and place a fee on paper bags. If passed, it will be one of the first comprehensive carryout bag reduction ordinances in the country. While these may be small accomplishments in the global scheme of things, we know from experience that small successes feed each other, and that that successes in Berkeley sustain others around the world, as we are sustained by accomplishments in other communities.
We are so grateful to the activists, staff, board members, and volunteers who have been at the core of
keeping the Berkeley Ecology Center vibrant all these years and to our members and donors for continuing to make the work possible. Our future depends on individuals offering ideas, energy, connections, and financial resources to make the work possible.
We invite you to join us at this juncture by celebrating with the Ecology Center on Earth Day and
becoming a member, donor, or volunteer. Come meet us at the Center, the Berkeley Farmers’ Markets, or on an EcoHouse tour, or visit us on the Web. Our doors are open, welcoming you to take your next step on our shared path to a safer and healthier planet.