US politician Gaylord Nelson, who is said to be the father of the modern environmental movement, organized the very first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Conceived to make Earth’s human inhabitants more aware of how they treat their global home, Nelson’s vision has grown into a yearly grassroots ritual for millions of people around the globe. Every April, on the spring equinox, we come together to plant trees, pitch-in to clean up rivers and streams, and gather at awareness-raising events.
While it’s true that the eco-health of our world is still very much in peril and climate change is an issue that is on everybody’s minds, I, ever the optimist, like to think that in the 4 decades of observing Earth Day we have gotten a little better in our roles as the caretakers of this planet. Sure, we have a long way to go, but in honour of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day I would like to celebrate the small strides that we have made in the time since its inception.
Going Green starts at home and it seems that we are rising to the challenge by lowering our energy consumption. According to government studies in Canada, residential energy consumption has actually dropped since 2004. From better insulation and windows, to more-efficient appliances, there are literally dozens of ways that you can cut your energy usage around the house. The easiest, though, is as simple as flicking a switch and turning off the lights when you leave a room. To make switching-off more fun, swap-out your boring light switch plates with something a little more exciting; like this one (above) by the sassy Miss Andee. Visit the Dandee shop for a dizzying number of designs, or to order your custom plate.
You don’t have to go any further than the supermarket checkout to see the impact that the green movement has had. In an effort to cut down on excessive plastic-bag usage, many retailers have begun to charge for plastic bags; while some have stopped offering them entirely. Consumers, it seems, have risen to the challenge. In a recent online survey by furniture giant IKEA, 96% of respondents claim to own at least one reusable bag. (Hey, remaining 4% – get with the program!) Of course, as you and I both know, one can never have too many reusable shopping bags. Add to your collection with a beautiful bag like these; made from unbleached organic cotton and printed with eco-friendly inks (above) by Earth to Gert. Using it (or others like it) will help cut down on the estimated 5 billion plastic bags that will be discarded by next year’s Earth Day.
In 1997, an international treaty calling for the significant reduction of the release of ozone-depleting chemicals into the atmosphere was signed. Ratified by 194 countries, the Montreal Protocol is thought of as one of the most successful environmental agreements to date. In 2007, twenty years after the signing of the treaty, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Environment Canada both noted some early indications that the ozone layer was beginning to recover. And, there’s even more good news; according to the experts, clear signs of recovery should be expected in the next 7 – 10 years. The lovely “Ozone” earrings, pictured above, are available in the Lolley’s shop. They are Leslie’s tribute to the atmosphere and a fitting one at that, with copper-coloured Swarovski “O”s hanging from hand-hammered, oxidized silver ear-wires.
So, whether you’ll be taking part in the community clean-up in Norway House, Manitoba, or creating driftwood sculptures on California’s Stinson Beach, I hope that you have a fun and fulfilling Earth Day. I hope, too, that you will take a moment to re-commit yourself to doing your part for the planet. We have a long way to go, but look how far we’ve already come! If the task seems too daunting, just remember –
No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.
– Gerhard Zeiler
To find an Earth Day event in your neighbourhood, visit earthday.org (USA) or earthday.ca (Canada). Or, if you know of any great local events, we would love to hear them, too! Please leave a comment and fill us in on all of the details.