Earth Day 2011

Make This One Matter

April is Earth Month, and next week on April 22, the world will be celebrating Earth Day for the forty-first time.
Earth Day prides itself on offering an opportunity for positive action and results. Six million Canadians are expected to join one billion people in over 170 countries participating in events and projects that will address environmental issues. Earth Day will be the largest civic movement in the world, and is supposed to be a catalyst for change.

While our population is becoming increasingly aware of our environment and the issues that plague it, after all these years has it really changed anything?

For Earth Day to be truly successful, people don’t need to be looking at the big picture. People need to understand that environmental issues that can affect them, do affect them and will affect them one day.

While there are tons of local events and projects on Earth Day that bring the event closer to home, maybe people need to take the cause even closer to home than that. They need to make it mean something enduring.

The problem is that the momentum created by the billions who support Earth Day is confined to a 24-hour period, and after that, the people who hopped on the environmental bandwagon just hop right off. Practicing the environmentally friendly way to live via online guidelines is great—but it doesn’t do much if your attempt only lasts a matter of hours.

Earth Day isn’t meant for activists—they are already engaged all year long—the challenge is to make everyone else care and act. The day is supposed to be a push that gets the ball rolling—but history has proven that the annual push hasn’t been strong enough.

For Earth Day to provoke change it has to mean something to people. Try to think of what Earth Day means to you. Anything?

I’ve lived through 18 Earth Days now, and after much thought—I can’t really say it means anything to me.

This is partially due to the enormity of the problem the day is trying to solve—you can’t save the world’s environmental problems in a day. Earth Day can be a great tool to get people motivated, but it needs to find a way to keep them involved.

What people are lacking is the incentive to do the little things that will accumulate to make a big change, and to keep doing them. It’s easy to see how people feel uninspired because it’s hard to imagine that the little acts will actually do anything at all. It is hard to make such far-off solutions matter. So, think of the things that do matter to you.

For every year that you experience an Earth Day, you also experience 364 days where you can be enjoying, exploring and embracing the environment that surrounds you.

At its core, Earth Day is about preserving the world, the environment and the beautiful places that surround us.

Earth Day 2011 doesn’t have to be meaningless. Think about what environmental issues matter to you and think of what you can do to fix them. Think of a small change you can make. Make a goal, stick to it.

Take your bike, eat less meat, shut the lights off, watch less TV, don’t buy things unless you need them—whatever you want. If you don’t have any ideas, spend 10 minutes Googling easy, hands-on environmental solutions and you’ll find millions of projects you can implement into your everyday life.

Use Earth Day as a starting point, not a be-all-end-all solution to a huge problem—that won’t fix anything. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you keep it up. That’s the only way things will ever start to change.