The Birth of a Movement – Eco Action 1970 – 1979

Eco Action was founded in 1970 because students were inspired by the nation’s energy around environmental action. From our inception, we were involved with local politics and focused on recycling, local infrastructure and public transportation. Our oldest record is a list of questions for local candidates for an unknown position. This document was written on  September 15th, 1973. 

Student Environmental Conference

In March 1974, Eco Action was part of the Student Environmental Conference. The conference pamphlet explains:

“The fist Earth Day in 1970 kindled a great environmental awareness in the United States. Foremost in the environmental movement have been college students acting individually and in groups. It is time now for students to gather and discuss their successes and failures, to learn from each other, and to come away with a better understanding of their role in environmental action.”

The conference consisted of workshops, lectures and discussion led by students, faculty, and guests.

Newspaper Recycling PrOgram

By 1977, we started organizing a recycling program on campus. We started a newspaper recycling program for students and town residents. The newspapers were collected and taking to Altoona where they were baled and sold to paper recycling companies for $35 dollars per ton. All proceeds went to the Salvation Army.  Eco Action members also volunteered their time at the Boalsburg recycling center.

Disposable Bottle Ban

In 1977, we also began efforts to ban disposable bottles on campus, and replace them with returnable containers and a mandatory deposit system. (Note: ‘returnables’ = recyclables) We hoped to replace all soda machines on campus with returnable bottles and “spread this idea around town.”

We also encouraged members to write their congressman about environmental issues, such as protecting 102 million acres in Alaska. Additionally, we started working to get more bike paths on campus.

We continued to expand the paper recycling operations and the “fight to support returnables” in 1978. We encouraged members to write to President Jimmy Carter to support a national ban of no-deposit (non-recyclable) cans and bottles.

“Do your bit in the war against waste!”

We also continued to follow news about protecting Alaska.

Our other campaigns in 1978 included speaking at a Girl Scout meeting, supporting the protection of the boundary waters in Minnesota, and working to build a campus bike path. We also held a square dance on February 18th, 1978 with the Rustic Quality String Band.

In the summer of 1978, Joseph S Ammerman, responded to us about our inquiry into and support for H.R. 936, banning no-deposit bottles.

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