How Earth Day Became a Pain in the Butt

April 20, 2021

Emily Atkin in Heated:

If you know an environmental reporter, send them some love this week. Earth Day is coming, and our inboxes are filling up with hot, useless garbage.

There’s no way around it. Every April, environmental beat reporters are inundated with e-mails from public relations representatives seeking to capitalize on Earth Day, a holiday originally intended to highlight righteous civil disobedience and social justice activism but which somehow became an annual celebration of reusable diapers and tree-plantings. 

The e-mails are not just numerous, but terrible. Every request to highlight a climate activist, scientist, or speaking event seems to be met with seven more to write about a group’s “new carbon footprint calculator” or a brand’s “eco-friendly gift guide for masculine manly men.”

Sorting through Earth Day e-mails is almost always an exercise in self-loathing and time-wasting. So this year, I thought I’d at least try to give some context to the complaints by analyzing the pitches I’ve received so far and sharing the results with you.

From April 1 to April 18, I received 90 pitch e-mails containing the words “Earth Day.” That’s about 7 e-mails per business day, which is really no big deal. (However, I usually get the majority of Earth Day pitches the week of the actual holiday—aka, this week. So I expect to have received a lot more yesterday and today). 

But the actual number of pitches I got was less compelling than the type of pitches I got, and I think those help explain why reporters tend to loathe Earth Day so much. Out of the 90 Earth Day pitches I got from April 1 to April 18:

  • 21 percent—or 19 in total—tried to get me to write about eco-friendly products. These included skincare, diapers, candles, toys, reusable cups, packaging, general “gift guides,” a carbon-neutral credit card, and beer. For some reason, 5 of the 19 product e-mail were trying to get me to write about reusable cups. I guess those are really in this year?

    Also, all the product pitches were sent to me *after* I publicly made fun of PR people who send product-related Earth Day pitches.

  • 10 percent—or 9 in total—were attempts to get me to focus on individual actions to save the planet. One contained 175 tips to reduce my “environmental handprint,” while another contained a tool to evaluate the carbon footprint of my meals. I also got a tool to help make more climate-friendly banking and financial choices, which I did not hate, hence the link. 
  • 8 percent—or 7 in total—tried to get me to write about companies helping to save the planet. Some were nice-sounding attempts to highlight entrepreneurs, while others were more egregious greenwashing attempts. One pitch, for example, was literally titled “Bitcoin Will Help Save the Earth on 4/22 Thanks to CoinFlip.” The pitch was that BitCoin was going to help save the world because CoinFlip, the largest crypto ATM company, is going to plant a tree for every BitCoin ATM transaction on Earth Day. Wow you guys, I guess BitCoin is really helping after all!
  • 11 percent—or 10 in total—were pitches about conservation and litter. These advertised Earth Day events like beach cleanups, and new tree-planting and conservation funds. That’s cute, I’m cool with it, not really this particular newsletter’s thing, but sure. 
  • 41 percent—or 37 in total—were general pitches about upcoming environmental policy news and events. These were mostly useful in letting me know what’s coming up this week. I’ll share the most relevant with you: 
    • Today and Wednesday, President Biden is holding a two-day virtual Climate Summit, where he and international climate envoy John Kerry will host 40 world leaders to seek new commitments to fulfill the 2015 Paris agreement.
    • Republicans are attempting to run counter-programming to Biden’s climate summit with their own “energy event.” According to the Hill, “Tuesday’s events will focus on nuclear, natural gas, pipelines, mineral development, hydropower and regulatory reform,” and “Wednesday will highlight legislation aiming to increase U.S. tree planting and conservation, other forest management bills and legislation focused on reducing emissions from U.S. agriculture production.” Cool. 
    • Greta Thunberg is testifying at a Congressional hearing on Thursday, titled “The Role of Fossil Fuel Subsidies in Preventing Action on the Climate Crisis.” 
  • Only 3 percent—or 3 Earth Day pitches in total—tried to get me to highlight environmental injustice and climate activism focused on Black and brown lives.
  • Only 2 percent—or 2 Earth Day pitches in total—tried to get me to call out corporations for environmentally destructive behavior.

=========

Much more at the link.

I will be taking this suggestion –

4 Responses to “How Earth Day Became a Pain in the Butt”


  1. Reblogged this on The Most Revolutionary Act and commented:
    “There’s no way around it. Every April, environmental beat reporters are inundated with e-mails from public relations representatives seeking to capitalize on Earth Day, a holiday originally intended to highlight righteous civil disobedience and social justice activism but which somehow became an annual celebration of reusable diapers and tree-plantings.”

  2. neilrieck Says:

    Unfortunately this is one of the weakness of living in a capitalistic economy: everyone takes every opportunity to see your something. Anyway, here is a video from last year by Neil deGrass Tyson reminding us about why we celebrate Earth Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dKFKjqAH4A

    p.s. how come no one is celebrating 4-20 ?

  3. J4Zonian Says:

    “reusable cups”

    Otherwise known as………………………………………..
    …………………………………………………… “cups”?

  4. grindupbaker Says:

    I’m flogging Earth day top soil, or Earth day earth.


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