What’s green, happens every April, gets more than seven times the civil participation each year than the largest American elections, and rhymes with “birthday?” Maybe you’re thinking, “mirth-day,” as a synonym for April Fools’ Day, but it’s not green. I’m pretty sure “girth-day” may also be an answer, but most of us celebrate that on the fourth Thursday of November.
48 years ago, the United States participated in the first official Earth Day. Since that time, it has gone international, with over 1 billion participants in 193 countries. If you’re anything like me, you will say, “wow that’s neat,” but feel overwhelmed when it comes to participating. What am I supposed to do? Should I plant a tree? Do I need to provide my own tree? Is it ok to use a gas-fueled vehicle to go to the nursery to buy the tree? Instead of paying for a real tree every year, could I maybe just take our fake Christmas tree with the pine-fresh scent out of the attic and plant that? Do I need to hold hands with someone?
All joking aside, sometimes it can be hard to know what to do when every little bit of advice has its own facts, “alternative” facts, and my personal favorite, “stuff Matt makes up.” So this year, instead of a multi-national, world-changing movement, I think we should just keep things simple and easy. The theme of this year’s Earth Day is to reduce plastic pollution. Lucky for us, this also happens to have be a long-term goal of our resident environmental committee, who has worked diligently for years to reduce the amount of recyclable plastic that gets tossed out with the trash.
So this year, I propose that we participate in Earth Day by doing the following: on April 22, let’s take our trash and recycling to the trash rooms like we always do, but instead of dumping it right away, let’s take 30 seconds to read the wonderful set of signs on the walls. These signs clearly explain what is recyclable and what is not using pictures and lists. There are directions for where to put certain items. None of this is new, but maybe that’s the problem – for most of us it has been around so long that it seems like part of the wallpaper.
This Earth Day, you can feel free to change the world to your heart’s desire. I’ll be pleased, though, if we can all just pay a little more attention to our ordinary trash and recycling.