Hi Earthlings, happy earth day!
Over a billion people across 192 countries will celebrate Earth Day this year. This is a major mobilization of human effort. And the best part is, this is a celebration all about setting our human-centric-ness aside and doing something positive for the plants, animals, air, water and soil– you know, all those things that support life on this planet.
If you find yourself feeling a little jaded about too much empty eco-speak and too little action, take heart today, things are a-changing.
One of the watershed events that triggered the original creation of Earth Day in 1970 was the best-selling book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. When this damning exposé on the impacts of pesticide use was released growing chemical-free food was a fringe movement. Today, the majority of North Americans are buying organic food on a weekly basis. The year before Earth Day started, a Cleveland river caught fire because it was so contaminated with chemicals. Industrial pollution continues, but since this time groups large and small have taken responsibility for local watersheds and have successfully brought life back to formerly toxic environments.
The challenges are immense, but people are more aware and more connected than ever before. And most importantly, in our heart-of-hearts no one wants to be contributing to a worse-off world. Slowly, but surely, things are shifting in a new direction as it becomes more obvious that it is possible to do things in ways that make things better.
A Simple Pledge
This year I decided to celebrate Earth Day by making a simple pledge– like an Earth Day New Years’ resolution. My pledge is to make a little more space on this planet for the plants, animals and creatures that keep our ecosystems going.
How might I go about doing this? Two ways, I think.
One is trying to apply the principle of Ahisma to my daily life, something I think about from time to time but not that consistently. Ahisma is a sanskrit word that means to do no harm. It’s an important part of Buddhist, Hindu and Jainist practice and was a key part of Ghandi’s philosophy.
Making an effort to reduce your ecological footprint is a kind of Ahisma practice. A lighter footprint means less negative impacts from your actions. When you make a choice like buying food grown without chemicals you are doing less harm to the places where the food was grown and the people that grew it (not to mention your own body).
The second strategy is to take small actions. You already know that I am really excited about making cities more hospitable by bringing more plant life (and all kinds of life) into them. I’ve started to introduce native plants into our yard and have just put up our first bird feeder. I know there are a lot of other small things that I can do and I’m excited to see what kind of mini-ecosystem activity builds up around them and how it affects my family and neighbours. Excitement, and action, are contagious.
What about you?
How have you been celebrating Earth Day? Earth Day has morphed into Earth month, so feel free to commemorate Earth Day in your own way this month or keep up the momentum of the celebrations you have already been a part of.
If you’re stuck for ideas here are some food related suggestions (13 in fact, for Earth Day 2013) and the folks at Happy Planet have introduced a Grow for Good seed giveaway to inspire more people to grow their own food (a shout out worthy initiative).
Post your ideas, activities and events and please feel free to join me on the journey of small things this year.