Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Live an Earth Life, not just a Day

I’m having trouble writing something for Earth Day because truth be told, Earth Day frustrates me. It’s ridiculous that on one day each year we talk about the importance of reducing, reusing, recycling, and caring for our earth and then the next day we go back to business as usual. Why is it we feel driven to keep our homes immaculate and in perfect running order (some more than others I know), but we don’t feel the same way about our planet? Isn’t our planet truly our home? It’s our responsibility - each one of us, not just the hippy-leftover lady that picks up trash along the side of the road. We wouldn’t walk by a bag of trash lying on our living room floor, so why is it so easy to look the other way at the trash lying on the sidewalk? We wouldn’t throw away money, so why is it so easy to throw away recycling? I’m as guilty as anybody. I’ll throw out the jar of peanut butter rather than try to clean it out for the recycling.

We recycle when it’s made easy for us and when it’s not we look both ways and then pitch the item in the trash. It’s just one bottle, can, newspaper, envelope, whatever. But that’s just it. We don’t think just one of us can make a difference and just one of us can’t. But just one of us times a million makes a huge difference. My paper’s obligatory Earth Day article on the front page recited some interesting facts: Recycling just one aluminum can creates enough savings to power a TV for 3 hours. Now I don’t know how “they” get to that number, but think about it. It’s kind of like trading your carbon rights. You recycle that can and you can watch TV for three hours and not feel guilty. (although personally I think three hours in front of a TV should make you feel guilty or at least bored out of your mind.)

Another statistic quoted said that each person, on average, creates 4.4 pounds of trash each day. Wow! That’s nuts. But I’m guessing it’s fairly accurate. Just think what could happen if each of us changed a few habits – recycled all the envelopes and junk mail (or better yet called a halt to the endless junk mail by logging on to and other sites like it and requesting an end to it), compost your coffee grounds and filters, filled a box for donations, recycled even the yucky peanut butter jar. Each of us could easily become less than average if we made one small change. 4.4 pounds per person is more than this earth can, or should, handle. So cut out the garbage.

On this Earth Day make a real change. Sit down with your kids and talk to them about Earth Day. They’re probably getting it pounded in to them at school so ask them what they learned. Make a pact to change just one habit. Let this Earth Day last longer than just one day. Maybe for your kids it can be an Earth Life.

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