The first Earth Day--celebrated 45 years ago on April 22, 1970--marked the founding of the modern environmental movement. Saving the planet was one of many social causes of the 1970s, along with women's liberation, gay rights, and ending the Vietnam War. T-shirts--washable, unisex garments that could be produced quickly and inexpensively--provided an ideal canvas for making political statements. They became the uniform of the outraged, outspoken younger generation.
Gift of Dorothy Washington Sorensen
This T-shirt by Anvil in the FIDM Museum combines typical environmentalist imagery with a popular feminist slogan: "A woman's place is every place." A woman's place was no longer in the home, but the whole planet. Women used their newfound freedom and mobility to support worthy causes like Earth Day.
Detail of 2010.1110.209
The protester wearing a T-shirt (and no bra) would become a stereotype of the 1970s counterculture. But these walking billboards were undeniably effective. The Environmental Protection Agency was founded in 1970, just a few months after the first Earth Day.