Green Baby Names
Where do you turn if you want to choose a “green” baby name for your upcoming child – a name that will really embody some aspect of the environmental movement? It’s a tempting idea – after all, the environmental movement, like children, is all about our future and the future of the planet.
I saw a “green” baby name list recently that was comprised of names from nature like Skye, Storm, River, and so forth, and it seemed to me that such a list misses the mark. Those are "nature" names – a cool category of baby names, but not “green” in the sense of the modern environmental movement.
One of the best ways to go green is to choose a baby name from one of the true pioneers of the environmental movement – to name a child after one of the great environmentalists who made such important contributions to our knowledge of our world. In their day, they may have been laughed at as oddballs, jeered as “tree-huggers,” and generally marginalized. Today, looking back, we can see that they were true visionaries.
Most of them had fairly ordinary first names. A good way to adopt one of these green baby names is to use both the first name and last name of a great environmentalist as the first and middle names for your baby. In most cases, their last names work beautifully as middle names today!
Here is our list of five green baby names for boys and girls, honoring the pioneers of the environmental movement. Any child today given such a notable name would surely have a name for the future.
For boys, where else to start but with Henry David Thoreau? In this case, Henry David would be all that’s needed to make the name recognizable. Thoreau, 1817-1862, was an author, a naturalist, and a philosopher, and his writings on natural history helped plant the seeds of modern day environmentalism.
Second, consider Aldo Leopold, 1887-1948. Leopold, the author of the ecological classic, A Sand County Almanac, was an American ecologist and environmentalist, and is considered a pioneer in environmental ethics and wilderness preservation.
Third, David Brower is a name well-known to anyone interested in the history of environmentalism. Brower, who lived from 1912 to 2000, was an activist and environmentalist who believed in organizing people. He founded Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters, and other environmental organizations.
Fourth, for boys, the name John Muir would make an outstanding first and middle name combination. Muir, (1838-1914), is a towering figure of American environmentalism. He was a committed preservationist who founded the Sierra Club, and his writings are treasured today as fundamental texts of environmental awareness.
Finally, for boys’ names, the name Edward Abbey, 1927-1989, is a “green” baby name with a colorful heritage. Abbey, besides being an environmental activist, was an author. His book, The Monkey Wrench Gang, is a classic of radical environmental writing.
In the environmental field, girls have their heroes as much as boys do. Here, it is impossible not to begin the list with perhaps the most famous woman environmentalist of all time, Rachel Carson. An American biologist, conservationist, and nature writer, who lived from 1907 to 1964, Carson is widely credited with helping increase environmental awareness around the world with her 1962 classic, Silent Spring. Her book spurred the banning of the pesticide DDT in the United States and helped spark the modern environmental movement. For baby girl names, it is a happy coincidence that Carson makes a beautiful middle name!
Second, Jane Goodall, born 1934, has made her name almost synonymous with conservation. An English anthropologist and primatologist, Goodall is famous for her lifelong study of chimpanzees in Tanzania, and internationally recognized for her work in the protection of primates and their habitats.
Third, Dian Fossey, 1932 to 1985, is another environmental hero, and sadly one who gave her life for the cause she cherished. An American zoologist and gorilla expert, and an ardent conservationist, Fossey was brutally killed in an unsolved murder at her cabin in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda, where she had dedicated her life to the study and preservation of the mountain gorillas.
Fourth, also in Africa, works Wangari Maathai. Born in 1940, Maathai was the founder of Kenya's Green Belt Movement, active in battling deforestation in Kenya. She was the recipient of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her environmental activism.
Finally, back in the United States, a world away from Africa but driven by similar passion, was Lois Gibbs. Born in 1951, Gibbs became a pioneer activist against toxic dumping, spurred by the notorious Love Canal dumping in Niagara Falls, New York. Gibbs was the founder of the Love Canal Homeowners Association, which fought hazardous waste dumping in Niagara Falls. Her work helped established America’s “Superfund,” the government program responsible for toxic waste cleanup. She went on to become Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice.
These are just a few of the names of the heroes, men and women, who helped build the evironmental movement in the United States and around the world. Today, as an energy crisis and global warming beset the planet, the work that these men and women began is the foundation upon which future environmental action will be built. Nothing could be more important for the human race. If you are looking for a “green” baby name this Earth Day, you need look no further than among the humble names of the movement’s pioneers. Many parents name their children after heroes of one sort or another. But few will be as meaningful as a name chosen from this particular group. Like Superman and Superwoman, these heroes truly have helped to “save the planet.”