Earth Day frustrates me. It shouldn’t, but it does. We treat each Earth Day as if caring about the environment is something new, or as if the progress we’ve made is something to celebrate. Free reusable bags, or plant a tree and neighborhood clean-up activities suddenly are in abundance. It’s OK, on this day, to not eat meat, because of the carbon footprint, or to buy organic and local produce. Yet I don’t really see this carrying over into daily lives or actions. I don’t see earth day becoming mainstream in any real sense. Even Oprah (no last name needed) can air an entire show about how much we are destroying the planet (and how you can save $1000s by changing your ways), but does that change policies and mindsets, hardly. It seems to get us only so far.
Why is it, by the way, that every time there is some “solution” for saving the planet the first reason given for why individuals should take part, or even pay attention, is the money they’ll save. Doesn’t that, in and of itself, produce the very thinking we’re trying to change? If we truly care about the planet, if we truly believe in the “connections” that Oprah tried desperately to emphasize (and reemphasize) than why do we need any other reason besides one…the life and well being of the planet and the future generations left to serve it. Green saves you money? That’s not the point! That’s the thinking that got us into this mess in the first place.
You can end up with tons of green products and be just as ambivalent. You can plant a tree one day and kill it the next. And what about the types of changes that don’t save any money? Are they not worth doing? What about the changes that actually require “sacrifices” are they not worth mentioning?
I keep hearing about how earth day is supposed to raise awareness, but all I keep seeing is the same talk about light bulbs and reusable bags…and I’m frustrated that that’s still the level of awareness we seem stuck on nationally. I hope the next Earth Day (the 40th) is much more worthy of our celebrations; I think the Earth deserves that much.
Otherwise I think Earth Day should be a celebration of what we have, remembering why it should be enjoyed and cherished. I think that in and of itself would be an improvement.