Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Today marks almost forty years since the founding of Earth Day. Founded by U.S Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970, the event has gone from a "teach- in" to a world wide phenomena fueled over the last few years by this "green-o-mania" that marketers have driven by and large. In all the original well intention...something has gotten lost I fear.
It seems to me that Earth Day is becoming the new Christmas for commerce. Once a well intentioned call for education and awareness, it has become an extraordinary marketing machine. T-shirts, hats, special sales, hallmark cards, ad campaigns, pricey promotional events are all part of a long laundry list of money making opportunities that do as much for driving earth consciousness as Santa does for understanding the crucifixion. But unlike Santa, Earth Day is sold to grown ups too and millions buy into it as an easy "plug in" to look "green."
I googled Earth Day this morning and came up with 81,300,000 results. Other holidays brought up the following results; Mothers Days at 46,600,000, Martin Luther King Day at 6,840,000 and Birthday as 243,00,000. I found it interesting that Earth Day has almost exactly one third as many results as Birthday...impressive. What was even more stunning was that Christmas came in at 306,000,000 - still making Earth Day look like a real champ as it has over 25% as many results. Have we really all gotten that environmentally conscious? Or has it simply become a really "hot story."
I think if you really want to celebrate Earth Day, don't buy a thing that say's Earth Day on it, because most likely it will end up in another landfill. Don't use electricity to watch a show about Earth Day that is funded by commercials for companies that most often are hardly helping our planet. Don't drive to another Earth Day event and grace us with more carbon emissions. The earth does not actually need a holiday - it needs regard. It needs your awareness not through big celebrations but through small miraculous acts of gratitude; planting a flower or a tree, making a commitment to recycle (if even just a little bit more), a promise to buy organic (if even one type of product), a commitment to not support at least one type of business that harms our planet (a pesticide company, a company that produces toxic home cleaning products etc), a decision to spend more time with your kids outdoors and in nature and to help leave a legacy of a love for the environment. The Earth will benefit a lot more from such small gestures then big celebrations.
Earth Day for me is a call for more silence and reflection. It's a day that is a footnote in my year to remind me of how extraordinary my planet is. What an amazing place it is with its seemingly infinite systems that support millions of life forms, all interlinked to support one another. It is awe inspiring to think of where we live, how truly beyond the scope of all our intellects is the bounty of offerings that happen moment to moment on this great earth. It is a puzzle and miracle in one - and no holiday can truly express the magnitude of this.
Today, take a quiet moment to really take in what this great earth gives to you and your family. How it sustains, nourishes and inspires you. How amazing that it does all this without you having to give it much thought, like breathing - the earth just gives, and gives and gives. Today make a simple choice to do one thing a little differently to give back (do your part in thanks to this planet, with no "cause" in mind). Be light about it..the earth does not need your reverence. Take a minute, think about it, and then move on with your day...just a little more conscious.