Earth Day

Earth Day

Claire Elliott

Created in 1970, the Dawn of the Contemporary Hippie, Earth Day grows in popularity each year. It serves as a reminder of one’s environmental sins; with it, then, comes repentance and promises of change.

Unfortunately, when Time battles habit, habit often wins. In other words, there is a disconnect between our goals and our actions. For example, I hope to use less paper towels yet will frequently pick them up over a reusable dish towel.  Moreover, as COVID-19 is still a threat for many, plastics are more common to reduce germ transactions. Even when COVID-19 will become manageable, it can simply be easier to pick a plastic water bottle than to prepare a reusable one.

Earth Day’s “greatest contributors” do not help this attitude of indifference. The majority of Earth Day celebrations are simply advertisements put out by various companies. Starbucks, for example, has an Earth Month Game and Earth Month merchandise made from recycled material. They even introduced the Odyssey Blend, where the beans come from areas with responsible farming practices. Granted, this is a step-up from previous blends, the company does not actually specify what these“responsible farming practices” are. It takes at least ten minutes to rewire to a site called “From Bean to Cup,” where the process of the beans’ cultivation begins with a journey from the Malawian farms to the Seattle headquarters. However, the actual farming practices (and their environmental effects) are still murky. Upon further research, though, there is a presentation on Starbucks’s carbon footprint, water usage, and waste, among others.

Ultimately, for the vastness of the Starbucks empire, the company is quite transparent and quite clean. Most companies, though, are not; and it is quite clear in the advertisements. In fact, there appears to be a sort of morbid humor in them. Take Budweiser’s tweet “Let’s raise one for our planet. Celebrating the 50th Earth Day with a new can.” The can does not have any cleaner features. Supposedly, “part of the proceeds” went to Earth Day Canada. I could find no statistical information on the subject.

In fact, those who speak most vehemently on Earth Day often have (a) a capitalist agenda, (b) a political agenda, or (c) a tendency to be self-righteous. It is no surprise, then, that Earth Day is a desensitized subject to many.

With such desensitization, comes a lack of action. For Earth Day to truly succeed, there needs to be a real celebration.

Celebrations are the basis of our society. Funerals, parades, and ceremonies reverberate throughout our history, bouncing off different cultures and reforming across space and time. They are the human expression, and, in turn, creation of meaning.

Moreover, celebrations of the Earth are the most common. Whether cultures thank natural deity, an all-supreme Creator, or simply nature itself, Earth has always had her offerings.

Earth Day, then, needs not one ritual. It can be a plastic cleanse for one, or a solitary hike for another.

Such a celebration would reinvigorate the desire to respect the Earth and live cleanly. Nancy Bogdanowitz, the Earth Space and Environmental Science teacher, works to live a greener life every day.

“You try to buy fuel-efficient cars. When we buy new appliances, we try to make sure that they are energy efficient. The less electricity you use, the lower your bills are. Try to keep it a little cooler in the winter. It’s a lifestyle,” Bogdanowitz said.

Although we do not own any homes, highschool students can make an impact. The impact may be small, perhaps even negligible, but that is not an excuse.

“You’re just starting to drive, and you’re just starting to create a lot of garbage. You’re now old enough to be [environmentally] aware. ‘I should probably recycle that plastic water bottle, or I should probably get a reusable water bottle.’ If we had more of a conscious effort to educate more kids than just those who take Environmental Science, that would be a wonderful thing,” Bogdonawitz said.

Originally published in the Spartana Issue 7 (April 2021)