A Short History of Environmentalism: From Being Green to Making Green

The history of environmentalism is a study in education and innovation.

From initiatives like Earth Day to institutions like the EPA, environmentalism is very much a mainstream movement: It is a matter of concern to companies large and small, inspiring greater accountability from executives and more experimentation from entrepreneurs.

Technology is critical to the history of this story, as it makes it easier for groups to organize, collaborate and cooperate.

Social media accelerates the rate of change, as the Green X Prize demonstrates: A forum that welcomes independent thinkers with a commitment to creating sustainable products and services. Through the pursuit of the common good, the site unites matters of environmental importance with incentives of economic value.

History proves that once costs lower – that once we convert theory into practice – communities emerge and expand locally, then regionally and nationally.

We are at a point of global expansion, thanks to a combination of factors.

These factors include on-the-ground efforts by the UN and various NGOs, in addition to public-private partnerships that emphasize ways to make green by going green, so to speak.

The more we reward these actions, the more powerful environmentalism will be.

History confirms that assertion, because there are precedents aplenty about how a cause can further civic engagement and economic advancement.

Prizes that promote these policies will increase awareness about safeguarding the environment.

With history as our guide, and with a renewed sense of optimism (and urgency), we can make this movement even more inclusive and influential.

That is a goal worthy of our time and toil.

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