… but treat her like a queen every day.
Earth day. On the blog of an eco-development company, you probably expect some glorified mantra about eradicating plastic, transforming the roof of our office into a garden and listing our cars on Craigslist. However, my thoughts about Earth Day are much like my thoughts on my least favorite holiday, Valentine’s Day. If I love something so much, how can I possibly choose just one day of the year to celebrate it?
To its credit, Earth Day does have one major perk that wasting-paper-on-cliches day doesn’t: awareness. (No, singles awareness doesn’t count.) I vividly remember the impact Earth Day had on me as a child. In school we took the day to learn about the loss of rain forests and other ecosystems. I had a huge lump in my throat thinking of my favorite animals, monkeys, losing their habitats. I also had a huge smile on my face as I pledged to give up homework in order to save paper. We each got to take home a tree seedling to plant in our yard. Until its demise in a tragic backyard soccer game incident, that tiny tree stood as a vivid daily reminder of our Earth Day lessons. So I guess for those who live under rocks or are under the age of 5, Earth Day serves the purpose of educating one about the fact that we are losing entire ecosystems, killing off species, removing the tops of mountains, creating un-breathable air and ripping holes in the ozone.
The benefit of working for a sustainably minded company is that I am surrounded by people who have dedicated their life’s work to environmentally conscious endeavors. These people serve as my grown up tree seedlings – the reminder I need on a day to day basis of why we do the things we do to sustain the planet. Talking with such individuals does make you want to cut out chains of green hearts from recycled paper and write “I heart earth” on the corner of every page of your notebook. I had many such moments when talking with the Island Intern Finalists this week during their Skype interviews. Finalist Amanda Throckmorton was explaining the pure thrill of living like a monkey at a tree house resort in Laos, describing it as her “childhood fantasy come true.” It made me absolutely giddy to think that we will be giving visitors a similar experience with our Canopy Homes on Isla Palenque, and sending more people like Amanda back out into the world newly inspired to live respectfully in order to preserve it.
It’s silly to devote one day to green frivolities when in reality we should be devoting our lives to a respectful relationship with the earth. True earth appreciation doesn’t come from stepping off of the concrete sidewalk in order to plant a garden on the edge of an already manicured lawn. It comes from those moments when you are falling asleep to the rhythm of the jungle high up in the trees, or approaching the ocean for the first time in a while or reaching the summit of a jetty without a name on a coastline that hasn’t been cleared. Most people don’t find true love on Valentines Day, and no one is going to save our planet from an environmental meltdown within the 24 hours of April 22.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Earth Day pledges are a lot like New Year’s resolutions. URTH_LUVR_4_LYFE anonymously pledging to “adopt a green lifestyle” on the Earth Day Organization site (is there a lifestyle orphanage I’m missing out on?) is probably a lot like the plethora of people who hog your favorite treadmills at the gym for the first two weeks of January and then mysteriously disappear. Now that I’ve managed to diss three holidays and the anonymous lifestyle adopters of the of the world, I’m going to turn this around to admit what I love about Earth Day – the conversations instigated by the Earth Day hype that will hopefully plant a seed of ecological inspiration in the hearts of people who hadn’t considered their environmental impact before. I really liked an anonymous comment I saw on an Inhabitat post earlier this week that said, “earth day should really be like earth life, don’t you think?” Yes, “Mbreaks”, whoever you are, I think so.
Whether you’re out planting a garden today, pledging not to use plastic water bottles, not doing your homework just to save trees, or rolling your eyes at the once a year “earth advocates” like me, I do hope that more people make a pledge to keep the earth in mind. At the age of 24, I’m in no place to be handing out sage bits of wisdom on living life. Yet, recently out of college and empowered with the feeling of having the “whole world in front of me”, I do know that there are many ways of looking at it. One way is to look at life as a series of decisions: how to act and how to react. From the simple things like what to eat for dinner and how to get to work, to the big things like how to move on after receiving bad news or what sort of mission to dedicate your career to.
There are a lot of factors within every decision: how the it affects our sense of well being, how it affects the people we love, how it affects our future, how it affects the world at large — why not learn to throw the planet into the mix? We are keenly aware of the way we’re affected when we don’t get enough sunlight in the winter or how our entire body relaxes when standing in front of the ocean. Whether you take it for granted or not, you are in a relationship with the planet. So as you move forward in your life, take some time to give a little love back in exchange for all the fresh air, sunlight, adventure and beauty. I’m not going to tell you what to eat or how to commute in order to maintain a respectful relationship with the planet, because every relationship is different, but I’m sure you guys can work something out.
Those are my Earth Day rambles – please feel free to give me yours in the comments (I know there are Valentine’s Day and Earth Day lovers out there, so feel free to disagree.)