The earth has survived another year. A little history about Earth Day: Earth Day was purposed by peace activist John McConnell during 1969 (proposed for March 21st – the first day of spring), but the founder of the Earth Day we know was Denis Hayes in 1970. Some scary environmental stuff was going on in that time period.
In New York, 168 people died of a respiratory infection over a three-day period due primarily to poor air quality. The U.S. created its first endangered species list which contained 78 species, including the bald eagle. An off-shore oil rig spilled 10,000 gallons of crude oil near Santa Barbara. The environment was having a rough time of things and people were starting to take notice.
Environmental issues are something we still struggle with. It is my sincere hope that we hipsters can start moving things in an even better direction. Did you know that just by taking small steps to homestead, you are making an impact?
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall
Be the Change You Want to See
So what can you do to make a change? Learn to do for yourself. It’s a broad goal, but again, every step towards self-sufficiency has an impact. That pizza you made from scratch with sauce from your own tomatoes and herbs is one less that had to be mass manufactured and transported from who knows where. The jeans you patched are one less pair that required toxic chemical process to create. The creative garden trellis you made from old bicycle wheels means a little less junk ended up in a landfill.
I think the biggest change one can make is impacting future generations.
My favorite self-sufficiency teaching moment I had with my middle child was when he asked me why I was going crazy planting all these vegetables. He was about 7 at the time and really into math. I washed the soil off my hands and grabbed a piece of paper. I drew a little picture of a vine with five or six tomatoes on it and wrote $2.49, explaining that this is how much I paid for a bundle of organic tomatoes last week. Then I drew a bunch of tomato bushes and vines with tomatoes all over them and wrote $2.10 next to that, explaining that this is how much I paid for a whole packet of organic seeds yesterday. He realized that it was mathematically a better choice to buy the seeds and put in the work.
Are there even more reasons to grow your own produce? Of course! But here I had “planted the seed” for self-sufficiency. In time it is my hope he will discover the various other reasons.
Be an Example
Even if you don’t have children of your own, or your children are grown, don’t think your job of teaching the next generation is over. Lead by example. You can be that cool guy down the street with the amazing garden or that lady who walks to work every day that all the kids wave to. You can read at a library or help out in a school or teach a class through your church.
Get Kids Involved with Earth Day
Today I’ll be bringing my boys to the library to pick out some of my favorite Earth Day themed books. I thought I share some of my favorites with you.
Pre-K to 3rd Grade
Buffy the Burrowing Owl by Betty Gilbert
Mr. Garbage by William Hooks
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
4th to 5th Grade
Tanya’s Big Green Dream by Linda Glaser
Keeper of the Swamp by Ann Garrett
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
The Life Cycle of Everyday Stuff by Mike Reeske
Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter
So today, if it’s as beautiful there as it is here, go outside. Spend Earth Day going for a walk, picking up garbage at the park, planting some native plants, or just sitting on the front porch and thinking about the beauty of our planet. Remember that you don’t need a special day like Earth Day to honor our planet. You are honoring it every time you make the kind of difference you want to make.