Can it be that earth day is 40 years old,? Or on a more personal note, that I was 16, nearing 17, that first year?
I remember it well. The environmental movement was very new, and a young group of us at school were taking a class called 'Human Ecology', whose instructor, no kidding, was named Green. When it was suggested that we take an afternoon off from school to go out and clean up the roadsides, none of us had to be asked twice ("oh no, Mr. Green, I couldn't possibly miss Algebra just to spend a school afternoon outside").
The principles of green, then as now, were imperfectly understood. We set forth on our clean-up mission armed with a box of 100 plastic garbage bags, in my mother's Buick station wagon, longer than a city block, with a 455 cube 4-barrel with overdrive, the largest of the many large engines that GM produced in those days, burning up the ozone at 14 mpg (pretty houses aren't the only thing I know about).
Nevertheless, what we cleaned up from the roadsides that day was shocking---literally thousands of beer cans (Miller being the hands down rural Maine favorite in those pre-Heineken days), old newspapers and magazines, household refuse.
And then there's the matter of all those plastic shutters which will have to be thrown away some day.