Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Thoughts

April 22 marks the 39th observation of Earth Day in the U.S. And while in the past I've offered Earth Day Tips or designed a green-themed window display, this year I'm feeling more... pensive about Earth Day.

What is Earth Day for? It's fine for it to be a day to take the kids to a community garden, or to set up power strips so you can reduce your CO2 emissions. And I admit I kind of like the kitsch (children-holding-hands-around-the-globe posters, lots of pleasant leaf and flower motifs).

But it seems to be getting increasingly commercialized. TV networks shade their logo green and run (kind of idiotic) tips along the bottom of the screen during prime time. Walmart hawks a carpet cleaner built from 50% recycled materials ("and if all 200 million of us were to buy one...").

Moreover, just a single day doesn't seem enough time to run those sales and those ads, so some places start referring to their program of events as taking place during Earth Week or even Earth Month.

This year the whole Earth Day thing is leaving me cold. Maybe it's all these corporate attempts to appear ecologically relevant. And so the question is this: what is Earth Day really for? (And shouldn't we celebrate Earth Day every day??)

I guess I'm looking for some meaning. So another question I have is this:

What do you do for Earth Day?

Those are my thoughts, written while watching Poisoned Waters on Frontline. If you need a good dose of Earth education, watch it -- it's all about our contaminated water systems and reminds me saliently why we want to take action every day, of what is at stake, and what the priorities should be. (Two words: public engagement.)

Because Earth needs us to pay attention to her well-being every day, no matter what we do on April 22.

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Picture of Earth Day window, 2006.

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