NEW YORK—This Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and although it looked a little different this year, with most of us unable to gather for events like rallies and gardening sessions, Earth Day remains an increasingly vital holiday. For half a century now, people around the world have come together on April 22 to do good and demand good for our home planet—and it all started with Gaylord Nelson, a junior senator from Wisconsin, Pete McCloskey, a Republican Congressman, and Denis Hayes, a young activist. Together, the policy makers and activist organized campus teach-ins across the country on April 22, 1970, in response to an oil spill in Santa Barbara. That movement blossomed into the Earth Day we know today, which is “widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world,” and observed by more than a billion people worldwide each year, according to the official Earth Day website.

This year, the Earth Day Network hosted a live-stream event to celebrate, which reached more than 8.5 million views. Earth Day activities also included a digital march on the Ellipse of the White House, which more than 2 million people participated in, and speeches and performances from notable public figures including the Secretary General of the UN Antonio Guterres, mayors around the world, Sec. John Kerry, Vice President Al Gore, Denis Hayes, Ministers of the Environment from multiple countries, hockey player Zdeno Chara, Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson, Roger Waters, Michael Franti, Nahko, Jason Mraz, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Ed Markey, Dave Matthews, Prince Albert of Monaco, Vanessa Hauc, and UNFCCC Patricia Espinosa.

One of the day’s most moving activities happened just after midnight in Italy, when the Roman Coliseum was lit with the Earth Day Network’s 50th anniversary logo. At the same time, Zucchero Fornaciari played the piano and sang “Canta La Vita” with Bono, adapted from the Irish’ musician’s “Let Your Love Be Known.”

This year, the Earth Day Network reports that over 100 million people took action in 192 countries around the world.

Earth Day demands action from everyone. Within the optical community, eyewear suppliers have been escalating their involvement in sustainable materials and processes for production. Eco Eyewear, from Modo, rolled out a promotion to plant two trees for each frame purchased between April 22 and April 27, while Paradigm, from Kenmark, debuted a partnership with the National Forest Foundation. The partnership will last year-long, but in celebration of Earth Day, Kenmark donated 5 percent of all Paradigm sales from April 20 to 24, 2020 to the NFF. Earlier this year, Eastman and Mazzucchelli launched a partnership in which Mazzucchelli would begin to manufacture acetate sheets made from Eastman’s innovative sustainable acetate flake.

ECPs got involved too, mostly on social media, where many are championing causes like sustainability and combating climate change. With a growing number of patients and customers prioritizing companies that practice social responsibility, this has become important from a business standpoint, too. Some offices spotlighted the brands they stock that give back to the Earth, while others shared what they do in-office to take care of the environment. Some made art, and others shared images of their favorite places on Earth, ones we’ll hopefully be able to visit again someday soon.

This is just a small snapshot of the ways in which the optical community celebrated Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, and it serves as a great reminder that every little bit adds up—from disposing of our contacts in an environmentally friendly way to building a practice that is as sustainable and green as possible. Earth Day may have passed for this year, but we can, and should, celebrate it every day, everywhere, and in any way we can.

Bella Vision in Spartanburg, South Carolina, shared some of their favorite eco-friendly frame lines in honor of Earth Day. Image via Bella Vision on Instagram. 

For Successful Vision in New Rochelle, New York, celebrating Earth Day is a family affair. Image via Successful Vision on Instagram. 

The team at Brand Optometry in Glendale, California, paid respect to the Earth on Instagram. Image via Brand Optometry on Instagram. 

Great Spectacles, in Stockton, California, played a guessing game with one of the team’s favorite places on Earth. Image via Great Spectacles on Instagram. 

Blink Chicago put the spotlight on Eco Eyewear to celebrate. Image via Blink Chicago on Instagram. 

EyeStyle Influencers also gave a shout-out to Eco. Image via EyeStyle Influencers on Instagram. 

Savannah, Georgia-based ForSight Eye shared some of the ways they try to be friendly to the Earth in-office. Image via ForSight Eye on Instagram. 

Kenmark debuted a year-long partnership with the National Forest Foundation.

Zucchero Fornaciari performed in front of the Coliseum in Rome. Image Courtesy of Earth Day Network.

In February, Mazzucchelli and Eastman debuted a partnership to make more sustainable acetate. Image via Mazzucchelli on Instagram.