Photo: Laura Pope
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
— John Muir
A couple of days ago I realized Earth Day is on Wednesday, my MML post day. I had several other posts already written, so it would have been easy to just ignore an Earth Day post. But, you see, as I get older I feel Earth Day is one of the most important days of recognition on my calendar. Maybe it is because over time I have become more aware of how fragile Earth is and how we, mankind, are not tending to her care.
I clearly remember April 22, Earth Day 1988. You may think,”That’s weird,” right? There was an incident that happened on that day that made me strangely aware of what Earth Day is all about. You are not going to hear a story of me standing in front a giant iceberg as it sheds into the ocean nor a story about me chained to the restroom door at the local gas station. My little story begins with a parcel post delivery. My young children were so excited about the mystery package, I was not expecting anything… Amazon was light years from existence, so no chance that I had forgotten about an impulse purchase. Apparently, I had taken a survey and this was the gift for participating. We ripped it open revealing another smaller box, brightly colored, made with cardboard and plastic. The print on the box said that after using all the exposures I was to simply mail it back to them and I would receive my pictures, by mail, in a few days. This gift was a Disposable Camera. My immediate reaction was that it is a waste of time…we already have a Polaroid camera, after all, and that is Instant. Then as the day progressed I saw the Earth Day movement being covered on television. Earth Day was now covered by media each year, awareness was picking up steam.
Earth Day was start April 22, 1970. Its founder, Gaylord Nelson, proposed the very first nationwide protest to force the issue of the environment onto the national agenda. In 1990, the Earth Day celebration reached another big milestone; it was now global, getting the message of the environment to 200 million people in 141 countries. Now the environment was an issue for the world stage. As a result of this introduction, recycling efforts worldwide were given a huge boost that helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
My reaction to the gift changed from a “waste of time” to a “waste to the environment.” That little plastic camera had become a symbol of what Earth Day was all about. Earth was becoming FULL and she did not want anymore disposable trash. I ended up using the film but did not feel good enough to send it back to be processed. So the camera was tucked into a paper bag that over the years gathered other rolls of film to later be developed. There, in the bag, the disposable camera & rolls of regular film remained, hidden, in the back of a drawer for 8 years. When I found the bag and pulled that old disposable camera out my heart sank again, I now needed to deal with it, to get those memory photos I knew the camera would finally become trash…and by now, I knew the earth was full. Full of people and full of all the product trash, consumed for convenience, now piled deep in landfills.
I am glad that Earth Day still lives on, 25 years since 1990, the global movement! Since it is Earth we are talking about, a global movement is what it takes for change. And I guess I am thankful for my lesson of the little disposable camera.
This is a day when I hope everyone takes a pause and considers the consequences of our lifestyle to the future of Earth. A day when each of us could commit to make just one change because Earth is full.
Earth Day 2015
What ONE change could you make that would make a positive impact?