Environmental Awareness

Jim Bolinger
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The current drought that covers the majority of the United States brings to mind a need for environmental awareness. There are two well-known flags that represent or encourage environmental awareness: the Earth Flag and the Ecology Flag. Consider flying these flags to raise awareness of the fragility of our Planet.

Earth Flag

Earth flag…the symbol of a new millennium

Since its creation in 1969 by John McConnell, the Earth Flag has been presented to U.S. Presidents, foreign dignitaries, and leaders from all over the globe. “The earth will continue to regenerate its life sources only as long as we and all the peoples of the world do our part to conserve its natural resources. It is a responsibility, which every human being shares. Through voluntary action, each of us can join in building a productive land in harmony with nature.” – President Gerald Ford, 1975 Earth Day Proclamation.


Inspired by the striking first photographs of the earth taken during America’s historic Apollo 11 Space Mission in 1969, Earth flag flies at the United Nations, Muir Space Station and at the North and South Poles. Renowned anthropologist, Dr. Margaret Mead was so deeply committed to the Earth Flag, that she carried what she called “the flag for all people” with her everywhere she appeared.

All across the world, Earth Flags are flown as the symbol of global and environmental awareness. There seems to be a growing commitment to restructure our way of living, marked by an emphasis on conservation. Earth Day Celebrations provide an opportunity to reflect on our individual and global relationship with our planet.

Flown alone or as a compliment to any flag, Earth Flag is an important symbol to us all, reminding us each to care for our planet and protect its resources.

The Ecology Flag

The green and white colors symbolize “the pure air and the green land”. The oval with a line through the middle is a stylized symbol combining the initial letters in the words “environment” and “organism”. This stylized symbol also resembles the Greek letter “theta” which is associated with the Greek word “thanatos” (death). This symbol, therefore, implies mankind’s threat to the environment.

This flag is one of a number of “ecology flags” developed in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The first such flag was simply the Stars and Stripes with its blue replaced by dark green and its red by light green. That design, made by the Paramount Flag Company of San Francisco in August 1967, flew at the famous People’s Park incident at the University of California in Berkeley. The colors symbolized “the pure air and green land that was America once and that can be ours again if we take the action necessary to recover our heritage.”

On 25 October 1969 political cartoonist Ron Cobb developed a symbol for the ecological movement based on an oval and circle and on the initial letters of the words environment and organism. The resulting design, which he put in the public domain, resembled the Greek letter theta. Look magazine (21 April 1970) widely popularized the theta symbol, which it associated with the Greek word thanatos (death) in light of human threats to the environment and atmosphere of the earth.

Look incorporated the theta – in chartreuse (later often rendered as yellow or white) – in a flag with green and white horizontal stripes and a green canton. Other variations were subsequently developed, but Look’s “Ecology Flag” remains the most popular design expressing environmental concerns.