Sunday, April 26, 2015

Earth Day Every Day

Dear Dad,

So here's the horrible truth, I totally missed Earth Day this year. I know, I know! You marched in the first Earth Day. You taught us about doing right, or as right as you can, by the environment before it was cool. We were composting things and reusing things and recycling things long before there were green and blue bins for that. But hear me out.

I remember being a kid, probably around Briton's age because, like him, I was full of righteous indignation over things, in this particular instance, the fact that Earth Day was just once a year. It should be Earth Day everyday, my twelve-ish year old self wanted to shout at the world. Why should there be just be one day when we worried about what harm we are causing the earth? Why should it be only once a year that we want to fight for the planet we live on? It should be all the time, right?

A part of me wonders if that's why I ended up in Portland. Where, not only is the dream of the nineties alive (both the 1990's and the 1890's, of course) but where it's Earth Day everyday. Where the city gives us wee tiny trash cans and great big recycling and compost bins for curbside collection to encourage (well, force) us to reduce our trash output. Where you can buy recycled paint, recycled clothes, recycled fur teddy bears (it's a thing) recycled art and recycled houses and no one thinks that's odd, ok, the bears are a little odd, but you know what I mean. The trash can in the library is one of the few in the whole of my (Environmental) school so that the middle schoolers bring down weird leftover bits of things that they've taken apart and stripped all the recycled bits off of until they are left with bits and bobs of trash to put in my can. Which is fine because, as payment for the use of my trash can, I make them listen to me tell them about a book they should read, so it's a win-win.

So while I definitely recycled all the paper scraps from my library that day, plus a couple of highlighters, and probably found myself eating something organically grown and sustainably harvested, while I downloaded something rather than printing it and put my food waste in the compost bin instead of the trash. While I walked past kids tossing snack scraps to the school chickens on my way home (because that's how we roll, school chickens), I didn't notice that it was Earth Day, it was just a normal day. And that's not a bad thing. In fact, it means that Earth Day, the Earth Day that was dreamed up all those year ago, it worked. Sure, it's not like this everywhere (although I highly recommend school chickens, because there's nothing like going to the staff room to heat up your lunch to the dulcet tones of hens clucking on the other side of the window), and yes, we still need to use less, recycle more, drive less, bike more, consume less and keep pushing ourselves to do a better job of protecting this planet we are the current stewards of, but it worked, that march you went on 45 year ago. It worked. It got the ball rolling. It started the trend. Not every crazy, hippy dream can say that, can it?

Happy (belated) 45th Earth Day Dad.

- Gillian


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