As ridiculous as it may sound, Earth Day is one of my favourite “holidays”. I have been celebrating Earth Day for as long as I can remember, beginning in elementary school and carrying on up till today. As a young elementary student, I signed up to be an “Eco-Wolf” (my school’s mascot was a wolf). Being a member of this club entailed the bi-weekly collection of each classroom’s recycling, the odd eco-themed event, and being an active member in the Earth Day tree planting and garbage pick-up. Okay, I’ll admit that I initially signed up to get out of having to go outside for recess during the cold winter months. But the membership in this club developed into so much more.
In high school, I joined the “Eco-Team” as well. But this time, my decision to join was backed with a genuine care and concern for the current state of the environment. My love for natural landscape and geography flourished at this time. This love was accompanied by an understanding of how current human activity is greatly affecting the natural world. Not just an understanding–a fear. I developed a passion to make personal changes that would contribute to a more sustainable future. Along with the other “Eco-Team” members, we did garbage audits of our school, sought to confront local businesses on their waste practices, and developed plans for tree-planting in the school yard. I loved doing these things for the natural world.
In my final semester of grade twelve, I took a “World Issues” course. This course exposed me to a lot of the injustices around the world–injustices that don’t have a simple solution. This included human injustices, economic injustices, natural injustices, and political injustices. My heart broke when I was exposed to some of these things. Although a lot of the issues are rooted in foreign countries around the entire globe, all of them are caused by humans and our selfish desires and tendencies to consume more, have more power, and go to every length to attain personal wealth.
I must admit that since I began university, I haven’t joined any clubs. I attend a very big school and don’t live on campus so I find that the commitment isn’t the easiest to uphold. But just because I am not a part of an earth-saving-super-team doesn’t mean that I don’t care. Recently, I have been more and more exposed to some of this world’s injustices through literature and reading. I believe that seeking justice is an important thing for us to do. It can be daunting and intimidating, especially when we live in our own little freedom-bubbles, often blind to a lot of the poverty, despair, and destruction that is going on.
I’m thankful for Earth Day because it acts as a fantastic reminder for us who so easily forget. The reality, especially in North America, is that we easily get trapped in our little bubbles and forget about the people and the places that deserve justice and care. Earth Day focusses on global environmental issues, but it should also be about remembering our brothers and sisters around the world. Earth Day is about educating ourselves and seeking change. Earth Day is about celebrating what we have and appreciating it for what it is. Earth Day is about finding solutions–whether big or small–even when they seem impossible.
I’ve been reading an incredible book by Julie Clawson called Everyday Justice. The book outlines the impact of our daily choices, not just on the physical environment but on people all around the world. It discusses things that we take for granted in North America like chocolate, coffee, food, clothing, waste, and gasoline. A lot of us think that saving the planet is impossible, and honestly, maybe it is. But taking it one small step at a time can make a major difference. Tweaking even the smallest things in our daily lives can make a major difference. That is how we can seek change…one small step at a time! I encourage you to check out this book for easy steps that can be taken to make simple changes in your everyday life.
Planet Earth contains a lot of beauty. But it also holds a lot of ugliness. If things need to change, we need to be the ones to do it. I hope that you are encouraged this Earth Day to make changes in your own life–regardless of how large or small they are. Inform yourself. Take the initiative to seek out ways that you can make changes. Be encouraged that the smallest things can make a difference and even the littlest bit of care can go a long way.
Well, I’m off to enjoy the beautiful day that the sunshine has to offer. How are you celebrating this Earth Day?