Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day, Everyone. Enjoy the Pink Candy Effect

Today marks the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day. But you probably already knew that.

I am a bit ambivilent about the whole thing, to tell you the truth.

Earlier this week I did watch a really fascinating PBS show about it called Earth Days. That was pretty cool. And of course we've been out there picking up litter, and all that. My kids are onboard. They know it matters.

But I sometimes I find myself loathe to join in the celebration at this time of year.

As a communications professional, I totally understand the desire to make an "event" out of taking care of the earth. It is a "happening," a thing that might net you coverage and raise awareness. It is a way to build momentum.

There have been times, however, when I've thought that the once a year celebration might have the opposite effect. That is to say -- perhaps people sometimes feel they can check of their concern for the earth as a one-day-only thing. Like Valentines Day, it may be that people feel as if they don't have to take their sweetie pie out the rest of the year because they bought a really big bouquet of flowers on Feb 14. Done. 'Nuff said.

This same kind of hunch prompted one of the original organizers to long ago make the bold statement that "every day is earth day."

But this morning as I took my dog on her usual walk and made my way through the dense, unexpected April fog that blanketed our park, I realized I was not feeling cynical about the whole thing. Not one bit.

Just like Valentines Day, I've reached a point in life where I appreciate the excuse to set aside some time to contemplate the topic, and in the same way I appreciate the pretty pink candies people give out in the middle of February's gloom, I appreciate the way that people who never talk about the environment at all seem eager to wish me a "Happy Earth Day" as they make plans to join in a trash clean up or pull invasive weeds. Like the pink candies, they are a bright spot in the gloom which can sometimes pervade environmental awareness.

So with that thought in mind, I wish all of you a Happy Earth Day. (And hey, if you eat any pink candies, just be sure to recycle the package, okay?)

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