Today is Earth Day.
I remember first getting involved in Earth Day events when I was in high school. My girlfriend Penny was keen to go downtown and check it all out and asked me to come with her. This was met with eye ball rolls by the adults around us — “You are DRIVING downtown to a save-the-earth event?” Okay, so we weren’t really up on our research. But our hearts were in the right place.
Now, though, as an adult whose time is over-taxed and who receives a ridiculous amount of corporate marketing jumping in on the potential for a cash-grab and green aura on their brand, I can sympathize more with the eye ball rolling than I could back when I was a teen.
But still. I think we need to shed some of our cynicism. (Okay, well, maybe you were never a cynic to begin with. I’m guilty as charged!) Because really, every single day is earth day. Every day, we humans use the earth and its resources without consciously thinking through what that means for the future. For us in our life time, but also for future generations.
Interesting to me is that Earth Day (unlike say, the Pink Ribbon and its association with Estee Lauder) traces back to two individuals in 1970. No corporations. According to Earth Day Canada:
“The first Earth Day, spearheaded by Wisconsin Governor Gaylord Nelson and Harvard University student Denis Hayes, involved 20 million participants in teach-ins that addressed decades of environmental pollution. The event inspired the US Congress to pass clean air and water acts, and establish the Environmental Protection Agency to research and monitor environmental issues and enforce environmental laws.”
The first International Earth Day was in 1990. That year, two million Canadians joined 200 million people across the world to celebrate the Earth, as well as to put pressure on governments to do something about wild life extinction numbers and climate change.
Each year, I believe that our governments and the companies that we buy from are starting to do better. This comes from voter and consumer pressure, and Earth Day plays a part here. Beyond using our power as a group of voters and consumers, there is individual powers that make a difference too.
When each household consumes less than it did the year before. The less gas our cars consume, the less energy used in our homes, and the fewer products we buy. Plain and simple, these are probably the most effective way as individuals to honour the Earth.
When each individual makes more conscious buying decisions than they did the year before. Reading ingredient lists to understand what toxins were released in production and will later need to return to a landfill. Buying products with less packaging. Considering second-hand or consignment goods. And yes, even litterless lunches.
Sure, we can’t all be energetic activists (though I do admire these people enormously) , but we all — as a collective — can and do either help or hinder the Earth’s resources in the choices and actions we make.
Happy Earth Day, friends! Go forth and be green. It’s such a pretty colour, right?
Image credit: Image by Norman Kuring, NASA/GSFC/Suomi NPP. Caption by Michael Carlowicz. Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, NOAA and the Department of Defense. Source.