Editorial: Put some action into Earth Day

Does attending a weekend festival make us want to become better stewards of the planet?

Comedian George Carlin famously said: “There is nothing wrong with the planet. Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The people are [doomed].”

His theory was that the planet has been around for four-and-a-half billion years, and humans have been here one or two hundred thousand years. And we’ve only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over 200 years. “Two hundred years versus four-and-a-half billion,” said Carlin. “And we have the conceit to think that somehow we’re a threat?”

Unfortunately, it’s taken our species less than a century to do some damage to this big blue marble we live on. And Earth Day is a good reminder to us all to keep it clean – something Carlin never did with his language.

What first started as an environmental awareness event in the United States in 1970, Earth Day (April 22) has become more widely celebrated in recent years. This year in Victoria a three-day event, Creatively United for the Planet, hopes to inspire environmental awareness and build community through creativity. But is this enough?

Does attending a weekend festival make us want to become better stewards of the planet? Does joining a broom bash or ivy pull lead us to build a compost in our backyard or take transit instead of the car to work?

Three local businesses decided to take up a Garbage Challenge to mark Earth Day this year, taking an hour to collect garbage from around Victoria. The one that collects the most wins the Golden Garbage Award.

Sure, it’s a small step, but an achievable goal. It should be noted that the Inn at Laurel Point, Harbour Air Seaplanes and Eagle Wing Tours – the founders of this Garbage Challenge – are all carbon-neutral businesses and want to encourage other businesses to get involved in the care of the environment.

Big changes, like becoming carbon neutral, begin with small steps. As recycling began with old newspapers being dumped into a separate bin and water conservation with turning the taps off when you brush your teeth, so must other changes begin.

Earth Day gives us the opportunity to remind ourselves that each small step we take toward sustainability will become a giant leap one day. Each time we walk or ride our bike to a local farm stand to buy carrots instead of using the car, makes a difference. Each time we put the carrot peels into the compost instead of the garbage bin makes a difference. Each time we spread that compost on our own garden bed … well, you get the picture.

It’s up to each of us as individuals to decide what choices we’ll make to celebrate Earth Day. Even if what you choose to do seems like a small step, one day it could become a big deal and you can say you did your part in keeping the planet “fine.”

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