The History of Sustainability

In Kind
In Kind
Published in
9 min readOct 8, 2018

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It all began with the industrial revolution. As factories began popping up in the late 1800s, they left a noticeable imprint on the land and air around them. Huge smoke stacks billowed waste into the air, and pollution belched into streams and lakes, killing fish. With no laws in place to stop them, their emissions quickly escalated.

Concerned citizens began what would be the first environmentalist groups. “The Society for the Protection of Birds” was founded in 1889, and the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty,” followed a few years later. These organizations are a far cry from the global environmental movement we know today, but they were the beginning of what would become something bigger, a desire to protect the planet we love.

In other parts of the world, things were changing as well. In the United States, call for the first protected spaces, called “National Parks” were beginning, starting with a location known as Yosemite. Naturalists such as Emerson and Thoreau contributed to the creation of these parks, by romanticizing the wilderness, and making the average person want to protect these spaces.

Still, this was about as far as environmentalism went for most people. In 1952, pollution got so bad that smog killed 12,000 people in London. 100,000 more were sickened by the thick fog, most of which came from burning coal. Concern over this tragedy lead to the Clean Air Act of 1956. This act was rudimentary at best, and simply required clean burning fuels near towns and to make chimney stacks higher. They didn’t cover factory emissions or other important air pollution at all.

In fact, these first efforts toward protecting the environment wouldn’t coalesce into the environmental movement we know today until years laters. A book came out called, “Silent Spring,” which rocked the world of the average citizen who had previously given no thought to the world they lived in. Until this book, environmentalism was largely about protecting wild land. The smoke changing the color of the sky to a misty orange and the…

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In Kind
In Kind

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