It’s been a while now since Earth Day first made its debut on April 22, 1970. I vaguely remember the strangeness of being let out of school early to pick up trash in the nearby woods. The idea seemed entirely foreign to us at the time, which means, of course, that we were used to throwing our garbage on the ground. Hard to imagine in this day and age that was the common mindset.
While the world has come a long way in battling many forms of pollution, I’ve come to believe that Earth Day is about so much more than simply picking up trash or planting a tree. These days, I mark the event as a Day of Reflection. I meditate on Earth’s incredible capacity to sustain life, our dependence as humans on its resources, and just what my tiny role on our home planet can be.
Thinking about these things always fills me with gratitude for our planet and the many gifts it gives us. I’m working on becoming a better inhabitant. Here are five ways to honor our planet this Earth Day.
Recognize that the Earth exists separately from us and that we are its inhabitants. Every bit as alive as we are, our planet provides everything that makes our life possible on its surface. We exist by its choosing, which is remarkable when you consider everything we do to it. On Earth Day, drink deeply of the natural beauty that surrounds you and give thanks for the benevolence of our planet.
Wean yourself of chemical dependency. Chemicals, like alcohol and other drugs, are hard to give up. The obvious culprits, herbicides and fertilizers, are only part of the problem. Many of the products we enjoy today are pleasurable because of their chemical additives and let’s face it, buying “green” isn’t always so fun. On Earth Day, take stock of your bad habits and choose at least one offending product to eliminate from your life.
Stop eating foods out of season and planting plants in places they were never meant to be. It is bad for the planet. This goes for high-maintenance lawns in drought-ridden environments and imported, out-of-season produce that contribute to increased carbon emissions. Lawns aren’t meant to be planted in deserts and foods modified for off-season transport are often low in nutrients and taste. On Earth Day, reevaluate your choices and strive to realign with the natural flow of things in terms of your impact on the environment.
Acknowledge that we are here on this earth collectively, not individually. Each individual’s behavior impacts the broader community, with our combined actions forming the sum total of our human experience on Earth. On Earth Day, reaffirm the importance of your own unique role in the world and take responsibility for the bearing it has on the course of our planet.
Go back outside. The world has become wider with technology at the same time it has driven us indoors. The changing seasons, infinite weather forms and stunning natural beauty of our planet are all waiting to be discovered. On Earth Day, rededicate yourself to venturing outside and celebrating this incredible planet that is our home.
Wishing you all a very Happy Earth Day.