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For Earth Day, Pledges for the Planet

We asked environmental leaders to us what they'd pledge to do on Earth Day to help the planet. What will you do?

Earth Day began in 1970 as a response to an oil spill. The idea was to push more people to think about the problems that were plaguing the country’s air and water as a way of making people care about solving them. These days, Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22—this Sunday.

But in an age when we’re more likely to talk about “going green” instead of “saving the environment” Earth Day has become a commercial opportunity for the hoards of companies with green products to sell. We wanted to celebrate the day by thinking about what we might do, instead of what we might buy, in order to help the planet.

We reached out to a group of prominent people who’ve been leaders on environmental issures and asked them to make a pledge for the planet—a green New Year’s resolution of sorts. Below are some of our favorite responses, which show that taking steps to save the planet doesn't have to be complicated or boring, and that no pledge is too big or small. They can even make your food taste better and your life less cluttered.

Bill McKibben, writer and founder of "My resolution is to focus with as much intensity as I can muster on the root of our problem: the financial and political power of the fossil fuel industry to prevent the action that might save the climate. After a quarter-century of working on global warming, I feel as if we've figured out where the real trouble is; we'll find out if we can actually do anything about it."

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: "Little things matter. This year, I pledge to remove myself from junk mail lists to free up space in my mailbox and space in our landfills."

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council: "Join a CSA (community-supported agriculture) group and support the local food movement. Nothing’s tastier, healthier and better for the environment than fresh organic produce grown right down the road."

Majora Carter, environmental justice advocate: "I pledge to help everyone understand that our planet's problems are based in the environmental inequality that societies foist upon poor people, which leads to the design and location of toxic infrastructure. Environmental Equality for people equals solutions for the global environment."

What will you do help the planet? It can be as simple as biking instead of driving one day a week or eating meat only on weekends. Make your pledge in the comments or on Twitter using the hashtag #EarthDaypledge

Photo courtesy of NASA

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