Earth Day, the holiday for the green movement, was the brainchild of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970.
The 50th anniversary was commemorated in 2020, just as the pandemic was sweeping the country.
I care about the environment as much as the next guy. But I’m going to celebrate this year the same way I celebrated Earth Day’s golden anniversary, meaning I’m not going to celebrate. Like I didn’t celebrate last year.
I did not attend an Earth Day festival, event or fair.
I’m not sure if I ate locally grown food.
I didn’t purchase any eco-friendly products.
I didn’t listen to environment-themed music.
I did not encourage any friends or relatives to do any of the above.
I did not create a pledge board at work so my colleagues could promise to take environmental actions this year and track their efforts.
I did not track my energy use.
I did not track my online energy use.
I did not download any plug-in to determine my online usage and how many trees need to be planted to offset it.
Speaking of trees, didn’t plant one.
A big fat NO to this one…I did not sign a petition asking any government official to take action on climate change.
I did not join an environmental group.
I did not eat less meat. Didn’t eat more, but I didn’t eat less.
I did not give up bottled water.
I did not make a garden.
I did not (but maybe I will someday) take action to cut down on my junk mail.
I did not organize a community cleanup.
I did not change my shower system.
I did not make a fruit salad for breakfast.
I did not make any changes to my wardrobe.
I did not bike it to work.
I did not plan my next holiday by booking a stay at an eco lodge.
I did not shop at a natural foods store.
I may have tossed something into our recycling bin, but I did not decorate it.
Do I feel guilty? Not on your life, especially when ardent supporters question what has happened to Earth Day over the decades. Freelance writer Brian Merchant editorialized in 2011:
Today, our Earth Day more resembles a toothless, consumerist Hallmark holiday like Father’s Day or Halloween. And I’m not even sure we’re better off that it exists at all — under the current Earth Day paradigm, people can watch an cable TV special or buy an organic t-shirt one day of the year, and feel like they’ve participated. Sorry, not helping. Not really. The environmental challenges we face are too great to stop there.
About those so-called “environmental challenges” Merchant alluded to. I’m not so sure.
I could have headlined this blog, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling…NOT!”
Janie Cheaney wrote a very good piece about wild prognostications made around the first Earth Day and since.
All those predictions screamed from headlines in the early 1970s, while the authors of best-selling books like The Population Bomb and Famine 1975! were debating whether to cut the Third World off from dwindling food supplies or try to scrape by with compulsory birth control. Of course, a funny thing happened on the way to extinction: It didn’t happen.