Earth Day 2013 - Our Daily Green

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day 2013

Once again, the world rallies around itself today on Earth Day. Earth Day has gone from an activist led event in Washington DC to a marketing expo of month long proportions. Make no mistake, Our Daily Green has benefited nicely from the intense focus on earth friendly products in the way of increased reviews and blog sponsors. We are not going to bite the hand that feeds us.

But we want to be clear, beyond the array of products and giveaways, beyond the contests and promotions, beyond painting the town green (undoubtedly with non-toxic paint), Earth Day should be about genuinely changing habits and lifestyles. It should be about mindful purchasing, if we even purchase. It should be about using what we have, buying what we need, and questioning our rampant disposable consumer society. 

This past week, our local garbage collectors were on strike and nobody's rubbish was collected. Several of my fellow townsfolk left their garbage at the curb, waiting for the strike to break, while it seemed that daily the mound of trash at the end of each driveway increased by a bag. Not to be smug, but our bin wasn't even 1/3 full (and that still felt like a little too much). Even after another week, the strike could continue with little personal effect on Our Daily Green's home. 

Owly ImagesI was a little disgusted as I saw the mountains of trash grow in my own neighborhood each day. In one week, my entire area seemed buried in its own wastefulness. It was a sad statement to what we have begun to take for granted, the world of disposables. We don't think twice about drinking from a bottle once and throwing it out, or carrying food home in a container and immediately throwing it out. We wipe up spills with paper and throw it out, we sip coffee from a styrofoam cup and throw it out, we leave a path of trash and waste in our wake. And in one week, we were overflowing. 

Annie Leonard, of The Story of Stuff fame had a poignant reminder, There is no such thing as "away". When we throw anything away it must go somewhere. This past week, with the garbage strike, that somewhere was "right here", at the end of our own driveways. The trash generated in only one week was overflowing.

To celebrate Earth Day, Our Daily Green again urges our readers to reconsider every purchase and action they make, from the coffee in a disposable cup to start the day, to the paper towel to wipe up the spills, the plastic bottle of water we open before we turn on the faucet,  to the plastic bags used to carry home the stuff we purchase, we need to start making a conscientious change in our actions. Slow down and think how long your item will last and if it's something intended for single use, rethink it. Stop throwing out so much stuff.

Several recent movies depict a world far in the future that is either overflowing with trash or completely uninhabitable due to the trash. I used to think that was an alarmist view. After one week, I realize the only part of the movies that was unrealistic was the far in the future part. It's a lot closer and lot sooner than we realize and we need to reverse that trend. 

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