On the second ever Earth Day in 1971, the Ad Council—responsible for public service announcements, along with the nonprofit Keep America Beautiful, put out an ad called, “People Start Pollution, People Can Stop It.”
Nov. 12, 2017
By Philip Perry
It became popularly known as “The Crying Indian” commercial. One of the most famous ever made, the scene opens with a Native American man paddling his canoe upriver. The water is strewn with trash. Litter also lines the riverbank. While in the background, smoke stacks spew black soot into the air.
He walks to the highway’s edge, where a passing motorist throws a bag of garbage at the man’s feet. The camera pulls in to a close-up of his face and a single tear rolls down his cheek. The narrator chimes in, “People start pollution; people can stop it.”