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Our history
45 years of campaigns in pictures

Bottle dump at Schweppes

Friends of the Earth's first campaign action. Returning thousands of empties to the London HQ of Cadbury Schweppes in 1971, to promote re-use, set the tone for a peaceful, eye-catching and effective style of campaigning. Better use of the planet's resources has underpinned our work ever since.

Early campaigning materials

Friends of the Earth's administrator Anfel Potter (centre) and colleagues display early Friends of the Earth campaigning materials, 1971.

Glow home Nirex

Demonstrators blockade a drilling team that plans to investigate Fulbeck airfield in Lincolnshire for the shallow burial of nuclear waste, 1987. The plans were abandoned before the General Election in June that year.

Save the Whale

Save the Whale demonstration, Brighton, 1990. Friends of the Earth has campaigned to protect whales in every decade since the 1970s.

Pollution in the Mersey

Members of Halton Friends of the Earth local group take samples of river water from the Mersey for pollution testing, 1991. Today there are more than 200 volunteer Friends of the Earth groups across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mahogany is murder

Demo outside Harrods department store, 1993. Friends of the Earth led an international campaign to expose the damage caused by extracting mahogany from rainforests. Brazil's exports of the hardwood to the UK fell by 40% in 1995.

The right to protest

Roadbuilding through Twyford Down sparked a struggle over the right to protest. Tony Juniper, here at the Twyford Mass Trespass in 1993, was Friends of the Earth's director from 2002-2008.

Acid rain - the litmus paper billboard

Friends of the Earth's litmus paper billboard changed colour to highlight the effects of acid rain. The poster won a BBC design award in 1994. Leading the UK's first campaign on acid rain, we persuaded the Government to accept the need to cut the emissions responsible.

Campaign against a south coast superhighway

The Grey Man of Ditchling, a 150-foot chalk figure of John Major, was possibly the largest political cartoon ever. Inspired by the Wilmington Long Man, and timed to coincide with the UK stage of the Tour de France in 1994, it was commissioned for the successful campaign against a south coast superhighway.

Mahogany is Murder

Comedian Alexei Sayle puts some elbow behind our Mahogany is Murder campaign, 1995.

Opposing the Newbury Bypass

Animal Magic presenter Johnny Morris (in spectacles, centre) among locals opposing construction of the Newbury Bypass, 1996. The road cut through 5 nationally important wild habitats. The broad-based campaign against it helped force a major rethink of government roadbuilding plans.

Industrial pollution

A collaboration between Friends of the Earth and advertising experts McCann Erickson to raise awareness of the health risks of industrial pollution, 1996.

Fuming Mad

Comedian Ben Elton (centre) at Fuming Mad rally, Trafalgar Square, 1997 – in support of legal measures to tackle the impacts of burgeoning traffic. Drafted and promoted by Friends of the Earth, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru, the Road Traffic Reduction Act became law in 1997.

Stand Up For South Downs

Stand Up For South Downs day, 1997. After nearly two decades the campaign to have the South Downs designated as a National Park succeeded in 2009.

Poetry on the buses

Poet Lemn Sissay performs at the launch of Friends of the Earth's poetry on the buses scheme, 1998.

Genebeast: against genetically modified ingredients

Genebeast outside Sainsbury's, Nine Elms, London, 1998. A majority of customers wanted supermarkets to ban genetically modified ingredients from their products.

Warm homes and energy conservation

Friends of the Earth worked with, among others, Age Concern to press for an end to poorly insulated homes. The Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act was passed in 2000.

International climate talks

With planks bearing messages from thousands of supporters worldwide, activists build a lifeboat outside the international climate talks in Bonn, 2001.

Jo'burg Earth Summit

Friends of the Earth worked with community groups across South Africa to create a massive installation outside the venue of the Jo'burg Earth Summit in 2002. The mixed-media sculpture drew attention to the basic need for a healthy environment to come before business profit.

Never miss a thing

The House Waste and Recycling Bill

Joan Ruddock MP takes a photocall, as part of the campaign to bring doorstep recycling to every home. The House Waste and Recycling Bill, drafted by Friends of the Earth and introduced to Parliament by Joan Ruddock, became law in 2003.

Pipeline protest

Campaigners from Friends of the Earth and Kurdish human rights organisations carry a pipeline through the City of London, 2003. The protest was over plans to use UK taxpayers' money to fund a proposed pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean.            

GM-free food and farming

Mass parade through London for GM-free food and farming, 2003. Friends of the Earth's work helped halt commercial planting of GM crops, keep GM foods off supermarket shelves and saw local authorities representing millions of people across the UK declare themselves GM free.

Palm oil

Highlighting the impact of demand for palm oil – a hidden ingredient in many consumer products. Cadbury-Schweppes shareholder meeting, 2004.

Carbon dinosaur

Raising public awareness of the sources of climate-changing emissions. London, 2004.

"Polluting industries need to realise it is time to adapt or face extinction. The government and EU must put the long term interests of our planet ahead of those with a vested interest in the status quo. They would be fossil fools not to".

Bryony Worthington, Climate Campaigner, Friends of the Earth

Thom Yorke launches The Big Ask campaign

Radiohead front man Thom Yorke launches The Big Ask campaign, 2005 – calling for legally binding limits on UK climate emissions. Within 3 years, and thanks to the support of hundreds of thousands of people, we had secured the world-leading Climate Change Act.

Make Poverty History

Friends of the Earth staff and supporters flood Edinburgh's Princes Street at the Make Poverty History rally, 2005.

Mass lobby for the Big Ask campaign

David Cameron MP is grilled on climate change at a mass lobby for the Big Ask campaign, 2006.

The Big Ask Live

Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead perform an acoustic set at The Big Ask Live climate change benefit gig at Koko, Camden, 2006.

Big Ask Big Quiz

David Miliband MP (left) and Friends of the Earth's Tony Juniper at the Big Ask Big Quiz at Labour Party Conference, Manchester, 2006 - just one of a host of tactics we used to make sure politicians couldn't ignore the campaign.

Climate Change Bill

Projection on Parliament to remind MPs to vote for emissions from international flights and shipping to be included in the Climate Change Bill, 2008.

Commoote

Cows infiltrate London's morning 'commoote' in 2010 – drawing attention to the link between rainforest destruction in South America and livestock feeds in the UK. Within months the government acknowledges the need for action to make livestock farming more sustainable.

A nuclear-free future

An oversized inflatable white elephant delivers the nuclear-free message to Parliament, 2011. Friends of the Earth is calling for the government to create a safer, nuclear-free future by investing more in clean, green energy and helping homes and businesses save energy.

Energy Bill

Glenda Jackson MP joins bodybuilder 'Energy Bill' to back Friends of the Earth's demands for a tough new law to save energy and tackle climate change, 2011.

Court victory over unlawful cuts to the Feed-in Tariff

March 2012. We win our legal challenge against the government’s plans to close down most of the hugely successful feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme. The plans had threatened Britain’s booming new solar industry – and had put 30,000 recently-created jobs at risk. Andy Atkins, pictured in the middle, was Executive Director of Friends of the Earth from 2008-2015.

Apple's tin price tag

A new Apple store opens in Leeds, March 2013. And mysterious labels appear on iPhones and iPads asking about their impact on the environment. Thousands of you wanted to know if tin in its products was trashing coral reefs and tropical forests in Indonesia.

Bee billboard hits David Cameron's backyard

A billboard parks in David Cameron's constituency in Witney, Oxfordshire, June 2013. It displays the names of 10,000 people calling on David Cameron to save British bees by coming up with a National Bee Action Plan.

The Big Laugh

Friends of the Earth’s comedy bash The Big Laugh at the Apollo, London, 8 May 2014. Greg Davies, Patrick Kielty, Eliza Doolittle and other stars perform to raise money for our campaigns. Saving endangered British bees is high on the priority list.

Save Devon's beavers

This exclusive footage of a mother and a baby beaver helped us ramp up support to keep England's first wild beavers – in centuries – in the wild. It was a hit on our Facebook page in October 2014.

Run on Sun

March 2015. Stoneydown Park Primary School in Walthamstow, London, triumph in our national competition to win free solar panels. Stoneydown took gold with a video montage of solar-powered inventions designed by children in years 3 and 6. It was a message to Ministers that every school should have the opportunity to run on sun.

UK's biggest ever climate change lobby

Nuns, farmers and surfers were among the record number of people lobbying their MP on climate change. It happened in and around Westminster on 17 June 2015. Droves of people, including 1,000 Friends of the Earth supporters, formed a humongous queue as MPs were ferried around in rickshaws. 

Council rejects fracking in Lancashire

Happy faces on the streets of Preston on Monday 29 June 2015. Years of hard work with community groups pays off as Lancashire councillors reject an application to frack at Preston New Road in Little Plumpton.

Climate. Justice. Peace

Paris Climate Talks, December 2015. We join thousands of people in small groups all over Paris to spell out a giant message to world leaders from the streets of Paris.

Mark Ruffalo says no to fracking

Hollywood star Mark Ruffalo encourages people to join Friends of the Earth's campaign against fracking. He records a video message for us in February 2016 – telling the government it's making a huge mistake by forcing fracking on to communities.

Air pollution measuring kit

Friends of the Earth's new Clean Air Kits sell out in hours as hundreds take part in our national air pollution investigation. The kits, launched in September 2016, help people all over the country research air pollution where they live. Sarah Brown, pictured, is a Clean Air Kit user living in Bristol. Sarah suffers from asthma, which is made worse by poor air quality.