by Maggie Flickinger
I’ve been told “Happy Earth Day” by about 30 entities today. I say “entities” because only about 8 of these tidings came from my friends, family, and coworkers. One sparked a discussion on how I slacked, not motivated enough to brave the spring downpours (and hail!) to ride my bike into the the studio this morning. Another brought an observance of a jeweled ladybug navigating the remnants of that downpour across an achingly green new leaf. Sadly, though, the majority of these “Happy Earth Day”s were glaring at me from my inbox, suffixed by “20% off today only” “free shipping on earth day” “giveaway today only!”
It seems that Earth Day, established in 1970 with the goal of being “…a national day of observance of environmental problems…” has gone the way of of capitalistic consumerism. Perhaps as daily awareness of environmental issues is on the rise, the need for one day to focus on these issues lessens. And perhaps that’s when marketing gurus seize the opportunity to co-opt the day for greenwashing campaigns. I have two alternative ideas to put forth regarding my ideal version of Earth Day, both related to radical change – a jar to the system that becomes cause for pause:
First, wouldn’t it be wild to see an earth day ad campaign that said:
“Please don’t buy anything from us today. Go outside instead!”
And second, in an inspiring turn of the tale, Bolivia’s Climate Talks are now underway. Following the, shall we say, lackluster results from last year’s UN Climate Change Summit, Bolivian President Evo Morales has initiated a summit of another sort: action oriented and focusing on the perspective of developing nations and indigenous peoples impact on the environment. According to Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s UN ambassador, “I would say this is the only scenario to make a balance between the pressure that at this moment the corporations are putting on the government versus the pressure that can emerge, can arise from civil society.” Following last year’s incredible move by Ecuador to constitutionally confer legal rights onto Nature, it seems that these South American countries are those to watch in the struggle to understand and respect the intricacies of our natural system.
I like the idea of action in the face of adversity, rather than stagnation in the face of bureaucracy or routine. So, to follow the triteness of “Happy Earth Day” with the new cliche of “Everyday is Earth Day,” I would say it truly is! With a caveat: As long as every day brings us closer to a fresh perspective & change – either individually or as a global community. From the microcosm of that lovely ladybug to the macrocosm of our place in the universe, humans have carved out a rare niche: we have the power to change our world. Let’s do it well.