Forty some odd years ago, United States Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin, called for an environmental teach-in to be held on April 22nd, 1970. During that year, over 20 million people participated. Many great things happen each year on Earth Day, most of which all have to do with the Earth in some way. It is estimated that over 500 million people participate in Earth Day each year in over 175 countries. I think it’s great that we have a ‘day’ dedicated to the Earth, but shouldn’t everyday be Earth Day?
In doing some research for this post, I found something rather interesting that speaks to humans being meaning-making machines. When Earth Day was first organized in 1970, it coincided with the centenary of Vladimir Lenin, who established the world’s first officially socialist state. In some of the news reports after the event, Time has a quote from a delegate from Mississippi of the Daughters of the American Revolution: “Subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them.” How off-the-wall is that? “…Live in an environment that is good for them…” Oh, the humanity, right? It just goes to show that people searching for a conspiracy will always find a conspiracy.
Given that it was Earth Day, I decided to go and take the Earth Day Quiz to see what my carbon footprint was like. I remember doing this several years ago in a globalization class I took during my time as an undergraduate. I was a little disappointed to see that the number of Earths it takes to live my lifestyle has gone up (even slightly) and I would rate myself on the low-end of most Americans, in part, because I live in Hawaii.
When was the last time you planted a tree? I haven’t planted a tree since I was in grade school and that’s a little embarrassing coming from someone who prides himself on “loving” the Earth. If you haven’t planted a tree, have you done something else for the Earth today? When I used to live in a city, I would often pick up trash that I saw circling the streets. I know, it’s not much, but it was my way of contributing to the health of the planet. More than that, if I saw something that was recyclable on the top of the garbage pile, I would pick it up and place it into the proper bin, (which was usually a few steps away). I’m reminded of a scene in the movie Independence Day near the beginning of the film where one of the protagonists is an environmental buff who keeps finding one of his co-worker’s coke cans in the garbage when the recycling bin was a few steps away.
Today’s post has been a bit of a potpourri of thoughts about Earth Day. I wanted to end this post with a “hat tip” of sorts to a quote that I always remember when someone tells me that “today is Earth Day.” To my knowledge, every day is Earth Day. We just happen to celebrate it this one day out of the year. I think it’s great that there is a whole day dedicated to the Earth, (there’s also one for trees, and a whole hour dedicated to the Earth, too), but I really think we need to remember that we should “celebrate” Earth Day every day. Buy the product that has “greener” packaging; pick-up a product that is healthier for the environment; hang dry your clothes; take the bus; walk; use the dishwasher; recycle; reuse! There are so many things we can do, every day, to ‘befriend’ the earth.