The long road to paradise is littered with abandoned ideals. But has Earth Day, which celebrates its 40th anniversary today, lost its way?

The New York Times has an interesting look at how the environmental holiday has progressed from its 1970 anti-corporate, grassroots, teach-in beginnings to today’s slick marketing campaigns that exploit the desire to be green to hawk soy toys and bus trips to flower shops.

The implication of the story is that Earth Day is being co-opted. While buy-in from business gives the environmental movement unprecedented clout, it also waters down the message.

For that reason, participation has dwindled from 20 million people in 1970 — among the largest political actions in U.S. history — to considerably fewer 40 years later. Is the greening of American business positive?

Go deeper for a look at how that question plays out in Hawaii on our impacts of land use page.

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