COMMENTARY | Earth Day is perhaps the most significant celebration in which our world partakes. Begun in 1970, the holiday gained momentum fairly quickly, and today celebrates numerous important milestones. More than ever, we are beginning to recognize the importance of preserving our planet. The green movement has become more than a “hippie” idea, penetrating, instead, into mainstream consciousness.
What better proof then the milestone 3 millionth sale of a Toyota Prius last month? It is not only in America that Earth Day has been accepted. City Square Mall in Singapore celebrates by boasting a record low average Energy Efficiency Index, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 6,800 tonnes and using solar panels to harness electricity. A worldwide campaign known as “A Billion Acts of Green” has already reached 85 million acts, putting them that much closer to their goal. Although there are still many obstacles along the way to a healthier, greener planet, our energy efficient initiatives deserve to be lauded.
Years ago, when I was first made aware of all the problems facing our environment, I was struck with a panic. How could we ever overcome all of this? The question plagued me each time I heard a new troubling fact. I have come to realize, however, that there are hundreds of little acts each of us can do that make a world of difference.
My own contributions to our planet are small: changing all of my light bulbs to the energy efficient kind, turning off the faucet when brushing my teeth, and making an effort to recycle whenever possible. None of these are revolutionary, but they are also easy to do.
I always find it helpful to remind myself that we are not the landlords here, only the tenants. We need the Earth a great deal more than it needs us, which is why it is important to pay back the tremendous debts we borrow in anyway we can. The simple act of dedicating a day to our planet and her wellbeing is a beautiful and necessary tribute in which I love to take part.
This Earth Day, like many Earth Days past, I am heading to the outdoors. Hopping on a train to a state park, I am ready to hike, camp, and surround myself with all the beauty nature can offer. Each year, around this time, I try to surround myself with the sights and sounds of wooded glens, wizened trees, and rocky paths.
Last year, I trekked along the Appalachian Trail, feeling like the last person in the world; the year before, unable to get away, I planted a small batch of heirloom tomatoes, the closest I could get to a garden in my New York City apartment. Nature, in any form, is a replenishing force, underlining our connection to the Earth and a sense of belonging. If we do not take every precaution to preserve this beautiful link, we are in danger of losing not only our health, but also some part of our humanity.
Earth Day Network (2011). Earth Day 2011: A Billion Acts of Green. Aril 22, 2011 http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2011
Lewis (2011). A Hybrid Car Milestone and the Evolution of the Prius. April 22, 2011
City Square Mall Celebrates Earth Day and Eco Milestones (2011). April 22, 2011 http://www.reddawncommunications.com/blog/2011/04/city-square-mall-celebrates-earth-day-and-eco-milestones-2/
Anderson, D. (2010). Earth Milestones Since First Earth Day. April 22, 2011