Worth Repeating: We should make Earth Day a daily routine

Here is another look at my contribution to the Waterloo Region Record’s Community Editorial Board, printed April 19th:

(http://news.therecord.com/article/698555)

“We should make Earth Day a daily routine

April 19, 2010
By Jason Hammond

Here we are again, getting ready to celebrate Earth Day on Thursday as well as Earth Week. A few short weeks ago, we enjoyed another successful Earth Hour. In this time of focus on environmental challenges, perhaps we can take a moment to express heartfelt thanks to the people who are, effectively, celebrating Earth Year. There are those who take action for 52 solid weeks, and it is time more of us joined them. After all, this is one of the times of the year when we are all reminded of our common dependence on the natural systems that make our lives possible. That dependence extends to the results gained by dedicated folks who protect and promote those systems every day.

We are all familiar with the demands that we change our light bulbs, send a full blue box to the curb, and ensure our tires are at the most efficient pressure. Certainly, those of us who have not done so already may find Earth Week a suitable motivation to get started. For many, however, especially in such a green and progressive region as this, some of the events and exhortations seem stuck in the groove of basic action taken long ago. If that perception fits, the time has come for a deeper engagement where an inspired vision of a truly green community can be fulfilled.

By all means, take time to celebrate a healthier, more vibrant, and truly sustainable future. Gain new knowledge, and connect with providers of solutions, as well as fellow travellers on the road (or bike trail) to sustainability. Above all, have fun with it — eat, think and be merry. One great series of local events is the Living Earth Festival. Others include the Procession of the Species, the Bloomin Earth market, litter campaigns and local tree plantings.

After a wonderful week of engagement, we must not simply look forward to next year and another set of activities. In the weeks and months that follow, it is our responsibility to extend and deepen our excitement by remaining involved. For some, it is enough of a challenge to keep an eye on the amount of meat in our meals, the distance we travel alone in a car, or whether our thermostat can be set a degree higher in the summer heat. In this community, though, so many have taken these steps years ago.

If you are longing for a way to do more, you are not alone. Once we have each addressed the basic improvements in our own lives, there is a simple choice. We simply maintain our achievements, or reach out to contribute the most valuable thing of all: our time. As the gardens of our neighbourhoods come to life, it is an ideal time to revive our own bright ideas and make things a little more exciting.

There is an endless supply of meaningful work to be done, often constricted resources that can be applied, and an extensive network of worthy organizations ready to receive a new volunteer. Whatever the time available in each of our lives, there is a home for our efforts. Why wonder who will look after the kids when they can come along to help? Why worry about how work doesn’t leave much room in the day when a team to green the workplace can be joined, or started?

If we are seeking the single most powerful action to take for Earth Week, it may be to simply refuse to leave the ongoing efforts to the current group of dedicated activists.

That is the real power of Earth Day: to make it one of many.

Jason Hammond of Kitchener is the president of Grand River CarShare.”

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