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Earth Day Phooey - Or Not
The New York Times published The Green Issue; Macy’s announced it’s turning over a new leaf; Staples will discount its “EcoEasy” products 35%, but hurry, offer ends on 4/25; it’s Green Week on NBC and just about everywhere else.
On Ideal Bite I learned that Earth Day is the third-most activity-inspiring holiday in schools, after Christmas and Halloween. A colleague told me that “in celebration of Earth Day” his kid’s school suggested that all students carpool on that day. Excuse me – why not everyday?
Earth Day is becoming a bit like Mother’s Day. It’s NOT okay to ignore your mother all year and call her the second Sunday in May. It’s NOT okay to turn an indifferent ear to planetary concerns and console yourself by carpooling on April 22nd. But is it a day worth celebrating?
Earth Day actually had a stellar beginning. Founded in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson as a huge grassroots protest over what was happening to our environment, the first Earth Day was a spectacular success. Organized as a teach-in to protest air and water pollution, 20 million demonstrators and thousands of schools and local communities participated. It is widely credited for launching the modern environmental movement. Read this article on the National Geographic website for a good understanding of the history and importance of Earth Day.
Bill Christofferson, a biographer of Senator Nelson, refutes Earth Day put-downs. “In an ideal world, every day would be Earth Day and every person would be environmentally conscious every waking moment. Of course, an ideal world wouldn’t be experiencing global warming, either, but it is. We are a long way from environmental Utopia.
“Earth Day’s success,” he continues, “derives from the fact that it has become institutionalized. Part of the genius is that it has, from the first observance in 1970, taken root in the schools, from elementary schools to universities. That has helped spawn environmental education and instill an awareness—Nelson called it an environmental ethic—in younger generations of Americans.”
Billions are expected to take part this year in 180 nations around the world. Will you be one of them? Either way, call your mother.