Friday, April 9, 2010

What on Earth is it all about?

Earth Day is the 22nd of April. 

Thanks For Today and other fellow garden bloggers are sharing ways to garden sustainably in honor of Earth Day and this is my contribution. Please visit Jan's blog,  Thanks For Today to see links to other posts honoring Earth Day.

I’m not sure if it’s an American thing or a world wide event –though when you consider that the “World Series” is a tournament involving only America and Canada, I’d be forgiven for being confused about these things here.  That said, I can’t ever recall celebrating Earth Day when I lived in Ireland.  It’s likely that given it’s proximity to St. Patricks Day, we were all still in recovery.  Add to that the fact that Earth Day is not about swilling the grog, so yeah, maybe we missed it!

So what does it mean to me?  I like to think I live everyday as if it were Earth Day.  I’m converting my front garden to be a native plant garden so that I might conserve biodiversity, won’t waste resources (water, fertilizers etc) and hopefully provide a habitat for the local wildlife.   I run the gauntlet of the Drosophila flies and compost my kitchen waste.   Every week, I take reusable carrier bags with me to the supermarket and feel embarrassed if I’m packing my shopping into a Lucky Supermarket bag when I’m in Safeway’s and vice versa –silly I know- the bigger issue being that I’m not WASTING plastic!   I drive a small (by American standards!) car and I turn off lights, computers and appliances when not in use.  I hang my clothes on the line to dry and my dinner guests get cloth napkins.  As things go, I’m a tree-hugger!

At least, I believe in trying my best to be environmentally friendly for more than just that one day of the year.

So, what can I do for Earth Day that I’m not already doing or attempting to do….

As the Christian Brothers hammered into the Catholic school children back home, in a previous millennium, (sadly, in some cases quite literally!) the key is EDUCATION.

So hold on to your hats, here it comes!

Basically, I wanted to know what is Earth Day, who started it and when.

What is Earth day?

Earth Day was designed to promote environmental awareness based on the idea that everyone on our planet deserves to live in a healthy, sustainable environment.  Basically, they want to engender in us an appreciation of Earth. 

Ok, that’s an easy one, especially at this time of the year.  Have a look at these photos I took of California’s native wildflowers and tell me you are not inspired.

It’s heartening to think that someone thought to highlight the wonders of our planet.  Sometimes it’s easy to go around with our eyes closed to the beauty of our world, especially when we are wrapped up in the rat race, living between car to office to inside our own homes, struggling to get through our busy days.

But STOP! 

It’s still there - waiting patiently for us to take notice - the trees, the sky, the mountains, the ocean.  For some lucky people, it’s right outside their windows.  You’d be surprised what you might find in your own back yard.  This fence lizard poses for me regularly - right in my backyard!

Increasingly people need to make a journey to reconnect with their planet.  That is the beauty of Earth Day.  It reminds us that it’s alive, we haven’t strangled all of it, yet, and we need to nurture what’s left. 

Just over the hill from where I took this picture is the land fill site for San Jose.  This is why we don’t want it to spread!

The “who” and the “when” of Earth Day totally intrigued me.  The Earth Day that we celebrate now was started by US Senator Gaylord Nelson.  Despite being saddled with a rather unfortunate name, he decided he had bigger and better issues to pursue.  Frustrated by political inertia on environmental policies, he announced at a conference in September 1969 that the following Spring there would be a “nationwide grassroots demonstration”.  You can get the story in his own words here.

So far so good - BUT THEN - I came across another article about a DIFFERENT Earth Day.  Curious and curiouser!

So, it turns out that in fact, the founder of Earth Day was John McConnell.  He even wrote an Earth Day proclamation and suggested that Earth Day be held on the spring equinox (March 20/21) starting in 1969.  So that puts him ahead of ole Gaylord! 

Isn’t it typical that there couldn’t even be a consensus of when Earth Day would be and that some politician just ran roughshod over what had already been established a year earlier?  

Mind you, if Earth Day was on March 20th the Irish would be still hung over from the 17th.  Maybe that’s why they changed it to April 22nd!

The bottom line is that this is the human condition – we, each of us, have different ideas, different faiths, different loyalties, different wants but we all share basically the same needs and the SAME PLANET!  And for this reason alone, we need to work towards the SAME GOAL – a healthy, happy, home.


So I say for Earth Day, get outside, look around, do some gardening – feel the planet in the palm of your hand.  After a good day in the garden, you too can have peas in your heart! 



Byddi Lee

4 comments:

  1. That is most interesting about Earth Day's founder(s). I'm actually glad it is in April. We have so much going on in March with Arbor Day and stuff. The peas in the heart are too cute. P.S. Came over from Jan's.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Byddi Lee, You have written such an interesting piece here! Thank you for spending some time doing a bit of research and sharing what you found. Most of us don't know the history behind Earth day. For someone who hadn't heard of it before, you have certainly done an outstanding job of explaining it. I also enjoyed your slides of the wildflowers in CA. Thank you so much for your participation in this. I hope you are enjoying your spring! Take care, Jan

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Byddi:

    Excellent writing! Thanks for sending. Blessings,
    Jean Koning.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I certainly didn't know the exact history of Earth Day. I especially like that fact that you remind us to be aware of the beauty of the world. That is, after all, what we were are ultimately trying to preserve, the beauty of it all.

    ReplyDelete