It’s been a half century now since Earth Day made its debut on April 22, 1970. I still remember the strangeness of being dismissed early from school to clean up litter. At the time, the idea seemed foreign to us, which means, of course, that we were used to throwing our trash on the ground. It’s hard to imagine in this day and age that was the common mindset.
WE’VE COME A LONG WAY
In the decades since, the world has made some progress in tackling pollution. And as I’ve aged, I’ve come to realize that Earth Day means more than picking up litter. Nowadays, I mark the day as a time of reflection. To that end, I meditate on Earth’s capacity to sustain life, man’s dependence on its resources, and just what my tiny role on our home planet can be.
Thinking about these things always fills me with gratitude. Recently, I’ve been working on becoming a better inhabitant. Here are five ways to honor our planet this Earth Day.
1. RECOGNIZE THAT WE EXIST BY EARTH’S CHOOSING
It should go without saying that the Earth exists separately from its inhabitants. Every bit as alive as we are, our planet provides everything that makes our life possible on its surface. We exist by its choosing, which is remarkable when you consider what we do to it.
On Earth Day, drink deeply of the natural beauty that surrounds you and give thanks for the benevolence of our planet.
2. WEAN YOURSELF OF CHEMICAL DEPENDENCY
Chemicals can make life easier. And they are hard to give up. The obvious culprits like herbicides and fertilizers are only part of the problem. Many of the products we have at home contain additives that are harmful to our planet. And let’s face it, buying “green” isn’t always so fun to do.
On Earth Day, take stock of your bad habits and choose at least one offending product to cut from your life.
3. STOP EATING FOODS OUT OF SEASON
Eating foods out of season is bad for the planet. Why? Because food has a carbon footprint. Purchasing exotic, or out-of-season produce only contributes to long-distance transportation emissions. Moreover, foods modified for shipping are generally lower in flavor and nutrients.
On Earth Day, reevaluate your choices and strive to realign with the natural flow of things. Support your area farmers and purchase food locally whenever you can.
4. ACKNOWLEDGE WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER
It bears repeating that we are on this earth collectively, not individually. As a result, each individual’s behavior impacts the broader community. It is the sum of our combined actions that forms our human experience on Earth.
On Earth Day, embrace your unique role in the world and take responsibility for the impact it has on the course of our planet.
5. GO BACK OUTSIDE
Although technology has broadened our horizons, it has also driven us indoors. Yet, Earth’s changing seasons, infinite weather forms and stunning natural beauty are all waiting to be experienced outside.
On Earth Day, rededicate yourself to going outdoors and celebrating the incredible planet that is our home.
Wishing you all a very Happy Earth Day.