Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Green

Magnet # 223: Jane Starr Weils' Baby Owl

Material: Plastic

Purchased By: Me

All around the world, people are celebrating Earth Day. The very first Earth Day took place on this day back in 1970, which makes this the observance's 40th anniversary. Over time, the number of participants has increased from those 20 million orginial Americans to over a billion nowadays.

If you read my post about Arbor Day a couple weeks back, you may have noticed that, for some time, it was celebrated on April 22 in Nebraska. So, yes, Earth Day did basically commandeer that day, eventually overshadowing the previous observation around the world. Earth Day was the creation of U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who wanted to bring attention to some of the public's growing discontent over environmental issues. He chose April 22 for the celebration because it did not fall during Spring Break time or exams, and he thought it would be more possible for students to join in during that time. Also, Easter and Passover would have both ended, but there would still be pleasant Spring weather. Unfortunately, the April 22 he chose in 1970 just happened to be the 100 anniversary of Vladimir Lenin's birth, and it caused some to think it was a covertly communist gathering. It's a shame Senator Nelson didn't hold it one day earlier, as April 21 is the great naturalist John Muir's birthday - I'm not sure if there's anyone better suited to share a birthday with Earth Day. Plus, connecting Earth Day and Arbor Day might have been an even better way to gather attention for both observations. Nonetheless, millions gathered that day at what was known as National Environment Teach-In, an event that Senator Nelson had modeled after Vietnam War protests. The name of the celebration didn't stick, but the message did, growing more powerful with each annual observance. Earth Day is now one of the most popular non-religious events worldwide.

So how can you participate in Earth Day, if you're so inclined? Well, there are plenty of ways - so many I'm not going to even try to list them all here. But taking to heart the three Rs - renew, reuse, recycle - is a good start. There is so much that we simply throw away every day that we might be able to find a new use for. And if your area offers recycling collection along with trash, that is an excellent opportunity to not let all of your garbage go to waste. Even if it doesn't, some stores, like Publix, have recycling bins on site where customers can drop off products like egg crates and plastic bags. So if you plan ahead, you can get your groceries and drop off your recycling all at once. Of course, that can help save gas, another plus for the environment. Another benefit of conserving and recycling is that it often coincides with methods to save money, so it can be beneficial to your wallet. And who doesn't want to save a little extra money in this economy? If you'd like some more ideas to apply to your everyday life, check out http://www.squidoo.com/recycling-daily-tips. I don't think this lovely image by Jane Starr Weils is supposed to actually be one of Mother Earth, but when I look at it, I tend to think of the central figure in that manner. She has such a serene, benevolent appearance that it's hard not to see her as some sort of protector of the forest. And both the trees and the little owl in the picture are good reminders of the plant and animal life that is at stake if we don't step up to improve our environmental conditions. If you'd like to see more of her stunning work, her website is http://www.janestarrweils.com/. And don't forget to keep the Earth in mind - it's been here for us for quite a few years, and it's on all of us to keep it around for many, many, many more to come.

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