Mad Men and Environmentalism

Don Draper has done some things that are pretty shocking to a modern audience - the smoking, the drinking, the philandering, but littering? Unfortunately, Don’s actions were more or less the norm for the time period. America, along with most of the world, was a polluted mess in the early 1960s; there was widespread littering, polluting, burning of fossil fuels (Don’s Coup De Ville got about 8 MPGs city), and most importantly almost no regulation to prevent these things from happening. The air was thick with smog, and the highways were littered with trash.

However, in 1963, one lady decided to try and stop all this. Her name was Lady Bird Johnson, and her goal was to make America just a little bit prettier. Although she was not an environmentalist, per se, she did want to give the Don Drapers of the world a nicer place to have a picnic. Most of her efforts involved the cleaning up of highways. She helped to reduce the number of billboards and junkyards along interstates and planted wild flowers in the medians. She then joined an organization called Keep America Beautiful, who were the first to fight against littering (they also coined the term “litterbug”). Although they certainly would not have liked Don’s littering, they may have enlisted the help of Sterling Cooper. These guys loved advertising and had some of the most famous PSAs of all time. Like this one:

Image credit: http://www.keepvirginiabeautiful.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/litterbug.jpg

Or this really famous one: http://www.youtube.com/embed/m4ozVMxzNAA.

It is thanks to the efforts of the First Lady that the idea of littering is so foreign today. Honestly, there just was not a concept of environment back then. People were stuck in their little 1950s bubble of naivety and, like Don, did not take a lot of time to contemplate the consequences of their actions.

Links referenced: http://www.kab.org/site/PageServer?pagename=kab_history


No comments:

Post a Comment