By Linda Rosenkrantz
Since Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970, we’ve become increasingly aware of the preciousness of our natural resources and the urgency of protecting them. So how about passing on your concern for the environment by choosing one of these earth and water-friendly names for your baby? Of course you could also get more specific with a flower name like Violet or a tree name like Willow.
Bay—Bay, which actually means ‘berry,’ is one of the most appealing of the cool water-inspired unisex names, and makes a refreshing middle name alternate to the more expected May or Ray. Zoe Kazan and Paul Dano used it as the middle name for daughter Alma. Not to be confused with Bey/Bae, as in the nickname of Beyonce.
Brook—The bubbling Brook is more often seen in its Brooke spelling for girls, and sometimes Brooks for boys, though there is a character named Brook Soso on Orange is the New Black. Brooke was boosted in popularity by Brooke Shields (born Christa) and is now at Number 191, having peaked at 52 in 1981. It’s still big in Scotland—at Number 88.
Dale—One of the early unisex options, Dale was a Top 50 name for boys in the early 1950s, and in the 200s for girls at the same time. Associated with long-gone figures like cowgirl Dale Evans (born Lucille) and pop psychology guru Dale Carnegie, Dale is also long-gone on both genders’ popularity lists, but might be ready for a comeback.
Delta—It’s the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet and the name of an airline, as well as the word for the landform at the mouth of a river–and is definitely a name to watch. Oozing with Southern charm, it was chosen not long ago by Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard for their second daughter. Though off the national list since 1934, it ranks at 744 on Nameberry
Dune—An unusual beachy option with a haunting sound and sci-fi connections to the eponymous Frank Herbert novel and film. An alternate spelling, Doon, was created by photographer Diane Arbus for her daughter, inspired by the East Coast sandscape.
Eartha—You couldn’t get a more direct connection to the earth and Earth Day than this, a name used by the Puritans, then in more modern times by the parents of singer Eartha Kitt, possibly inspired by African-American philanthropist Eartha M. M. White.
Forest—Though the Forrest spelling is more commonly used, this one takes you back further into the woods. This is the version used by Forest Whitaker—a great believer in nature names for his children– and squeezed onto the Nameberry list at Number 998.
Gaia–The name of the Greek mythological earth goddess was chosen by actress Emma Thompson specifically for its ecological element, making it an ideal Earth Day choice.
Lake—Another of the refreshing new water names, this one came to the fore via actress Lake Bell, mother of a girl named Nova. Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady used it as a middle name for daughter Vivian.
Meadow—It always seemed somewhat ironic that the daughter of Tony Soprano would have this peaceful, pastoral nature name. Meadow entered the Social Security list in 2001, and is now at Number 735, 622 on Nameberry. It is borne by the daughter of the late Paul Walker.
Moss—The soft greenery that grows near damp or shady spots has an appropriately soft sound and image. A variant of Moses, it was most famously associated with 20th century playwright Moss Hart (born Robert) and was also characters in The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd and The IT Crowd (as nickname for Maurice). Could be a fresher alternative to Ross.
Ocean—One of the unisex nature names chosen by Forest Whitaker, Ocean, once seen as hippy-dippy back in the day, Ocean has been flowing back into the realm of possibility. French version Océane is wildly popular in Paris. Jeff Goldblum’s son Charlie has Ocean as his middle name. Ocean is #959 on NB.
River—Ocean’s little brother has found huge success in the baby-naming world as one of the leading nature name, used primarily for boys. A major celebrity fave, used by Keri Russell, Taylor Hanson, Jamie Oliver, Jeff Goldblum and others It entered the Top 1000 in 1994, and currently ranks at Number 201 and 270 on Nameberry.