Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Global Warming Wednesday: Happy Earth Day!

(Another short post, as I am drowning in school work--likely silence afterwards until I get one of these papers done.)

This Sunday, April 22nd, is Earth Day. The first one was back in 1970, conceived of as an opportunity to educate the public on environmental issues.

I wasn't around for the first one, but I do remember its 20th anniversary and the national (and apparently global) attention given to it. The focus of Earth Day 1990 was to encourage increased recycling efforts. For me, it was significant because I was on a biology field trip at that time, one that was paid for in large part by the proceeds of our recycling project. I felt very in tune with the environmental movement!

I'm not feeling that same love this year. Here in Toronto, the city is being encouraged to take part in the "20-Minute Toronto Makeover" and "Mayor David Miller's Community Clean-Up," basically opportunities for cleaning up litter. I understand the (superficial) logic behind this: beautifying the city = beautifying the earth. But, I think these activities miss the broader point. Various businesses are acting as pick up locations for the plastic bags and plastic gloves people can get for free. All of the litter is being collected in these bags and will still go to the landfill (although people are encouraged to recycle what they can, if they can). While the streets and parks may be a little cleaner as a result--and I am all for that--the events don't appear to make any effort to educate participants on how to lessen their impact. Recycling gets a slight mention, but there is nothing on reducing or reusing. Picking up litter, something I have been known to do, is something I see as more an issue of public courtesy than environmentalism.

I do not mark Earth Day with quite the same enthusiasm these days as in 1990, but that is due to some extent to the fact that I try to keep the enviroment in mind all year long. Nonetheless, we've had frequent readings of our book on "Why Should I Recycle" in the past week or so and are quite happy that Scooter is enjoying the book so much. Passing on the torch...


alejna said...

Happy Earth Day to you!

It is a shame that the "reduce" and "reuse" bits tend to get overshadowed by the recycling. It seems absurd to me to have people using special plastic bags for trash collection...don't most of us have too many plastic bags lying around just itching to get reused? Such a missed opportunity. Ah, well...

I'll have to check out "Why Should I Recycle". Is that a kid's book, then?

Good luck with the papers and such. I should be working on such things myself...

SpeakEasy said...

I was fortunate to be a coordinator of the cleanup of our area a few years back (Yonge and Lawrence in TO) and I found that th best thing to come from it was all the crap that was on the street, in the parks and ravines and bushes we all gone. The 50 or so of us packed up over 200 garbage bags. I look forward to the clean up this afternoon, but I do agree that there is nothing to do with educating. I think that should be done all the time. Especially on garbage day.

Now back to studying for me too.

Good luck