Sunday, April 19, 2015

Earth Day - Everyday

This coming Wednesday is Earth Day. Call me odd, but it's one of my favorite celebrations of the year. I am a huge outdoors enthusiast, so anything that recognizes the relationship of humans to their environment I support.

Earth Day was started by Wisconsin's own Gaylord Nelson in 1970. The Earth Day Network website says that "Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center." I think it's pretty cool that some guy from the Midwest took it upon himself to start such a movement. 

Of course there's a conservative, evangelical element out there that says we shouldn't worship the Earth, and I'm not saying that I do. I do however APPRECIATE the earth and RESPECT the fact that it would do very fine on its own without us here. We've made our mark on Earth so far, and lets just say much of it is less than flattering. 

When I lived on the East side of Milwaukee in the early 90's I used to take part in a Milwaukee River cleanup for Earth Day. It was usually a well attended event of volunteers, where trash bags were provided by Miller Brewing, and people flocked out and picked up trash along the riverbanks and in the park. There are some who would say that it was a "feel good" event, and merely a band aid on the much bigger, global environmental problems. 

To this I would answer that we have to start somewhere.

It's as simple as everyone taking care of not only their own space, but the space around them. I think of this every day when I walk the dog. I always make a point of picking up at least one piece of trash on every walk. (It's befuddling to me that people still drop litter in 2015, but I guess stupidity doesn't evolve.) 

The simplistic way I think of this petty little action is that if nothing else good happened on that day, I made the world a slightly better place. I know it's childlike and that I've probably become the creepy old guy picking up trash with his dog, but I couldn't care less. So to the person that dropped the empty Monster can yesterday I say, "You're welcome."

I can remember in the late 80's and early 90's when my brothers and I went up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, we always packed out not only our own garbage, but always came back with a half a garbage bag of other people's garbage. It that beautiful environment there was no way we could paddle past something as offensive as a plastic grocery bag stuck in the brush, or a plastic bottle on shore. 

This was the way we were raised by our brother Tom. Leave no trace. It was, and continues to be a family mantra when camping or picnicking.
Earth Day, 2006


And so, when I had kids of my own, I wanted to instill in them an appreciation and respect for the environment. So, on a couple of occasions for Earth Day we'd go down to the Fox River and pick up trash. It was not an organized event, just a dad and his kids making the world a slightly better place. I hope some of the principles stuck with my kids. I think they did, as they both seem to "get it."

This past week, a friend of mine from grade school posted a picture on Facebook of what looks to be a lunchroom type area. I think one of his tasks is to take care of this area and his post showed a good example, albeit indoors, of the kind of people that make the world out to be their personal landfill. It's disgusting, sad and frankly, difficult to fathom how people can be such slobs. I think this carries through into the outside world though and you get the Monster cans and discarded McDonalds bags thrown from car windows. 

No words.
I guess my point is, let's try better. Try going outside your comfort level to make the Earth a better place. Bike or walk to work, shut off lights, don't waste water, don't fertilize your lawn (egads!), drive less, take shorter showers, give to environmental groups, pick up after your dog, eat less meat.

Who knows you may even start something like this guy did. He saw a problem and took ownership. Then word spread and the whole community took ownership. Check it out Here.

Anne Lamott whose writing I admire greatly tweeted once and I think it sums things up nicely. She said:

"If I want to feel God's love, and radical self-love, I flirt with old people. I pick up litter, knowing there will be more"

Exactly.

Happy Earth Day.

Blogging off...

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