It’s your boy D! I hope you are all doing well during this time of quarantine! Over here, it’s been pretty weird spending all this time in the house, but it’s given me some time to find out more about myself. For example, I’ve found out that I’m messier than I think I am and I can also eat a family size bag of potato chips in one sitting. Proof that you can do anything you put your mind to, I guess.
I wanted to take a brief pause from Netflix to wish you all the best for one of my favorite April holidays! No, not 4/20, though that would explain the bag of chips, nor Marathon Monday (or Patriots' Day to us OG Mass folk) as that will be delayed until fall this year. I’m talking about Earth Day, the day we reflect on our connection to our planet and/or perhaps pray to the Nordic patron saint of the environment, Greta Thunberg. However you observe the day, I’m here for it.
To me, Earth Day has always been special, as it provides an excuse to literally stop and smell the roses. It’s an official invitation to come back to nature and be one with the flora and fauna. It’s a day where I can express my inner hippie with reckless abandon. More importantly, it is a conscious reminder of the planet’s fragility and, in turn, our own. I know…it’s deep.
This year we don’t need a reminder of the importance of our health, both individually and collectively. It’s on the news, on our social media, in our living rooms. It’s almost constant. Our environment can affect our health in many other ways too. The effects of climate change on disease have been well documented, as our lungs, hearts, digestive systems and even our mental health can be impacted. There is a direct connection between a healthier planet and a healthier you. A point that I plan to research further, so I’ll share what I find out with you too. In the meantime, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has published some easy-to-digest info on climate change and health, including this gem below.
Earth Day this year also marks a special milestone, as it is the 50th (!!!) anniversary of the first celebration. It’s been a half century since Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson and a few others kicked off the concept to inspire people to unite and organize against the desecration of our planet and for promotion of policy and action toward the better planet stewardship. Here we are 50 years later, but are we that much better off? In some ways, we have made considerable progress. We have the EPA, the Clean Water Act and some other policies that have made a difference in our air, water and soil quality. We have students enrolled in programs aligned with environmental science and we look at sustainability and climate change with a long-term perspective. However, we still have considerable work to do as there are still folks that deny the reality of the science and we still have issues with waste, policy rollback and inaction. So what can WE do?
On Saturday, I saw a dude with a medical mask, sunglasses, a pair of kitchen tongs and a dripping paper bag walking toward me as I was heading to my car. I thought it was going to be one of those “WTF?!? Why do I always see the crazy people?” moments, but then I see the guy stop and use the tongs to pick up cigarette butts, a squished can and some random debris. As he continued down the street, stopping every few steps to pick up “someone else’s trash”, I thought “Oh, we nasty in this neighborhood“ but then I thought, “This guy is an environmental badass! He’s changing the world!” But in reality, he’s not. He’s just one guy doing a little bit more than his part, taking care of his local environment. That could be me. It could be you. It could be all of us.
That’s the spirit of Earth Day.
That’s the meaning of the slogan, “Think Globally, Act Locally.” It’s like “Think Big, Act Small.” You don’t have to do huge things to make an impact, but if we all do small things together, like I dunno, waste one less disposable cup today, our impact is magnified.
So for this Earth Day, I’m going to use it like a reset button. I’m going to consider it like New Year’s Eve and this is my resolution, because since then this year mostly sucked. I’m giving myself a challenge to decrease my own waste of resources – not just cups, but of food, money, time (too late!) – and see what impact that has. Best case scenario, I change the world for the better. Worst case scenario, I change me for the better. That’s not a bad win-win situation. Maybe I’ll also get on those 50 pushups a day I said I would do in January. But whom am I kidding? Baby steps…