“Whether you’re conservative, middle of the road, progressive, religious, whatever – everybody needs to participate in this because we’ve been given a gift. The earth is an incredible thing and it’s difficult to see how trashed it is, but it is,” said Kathleen Rogers, president, Earth Day Network.
What Rogers refers to are the materials and phenomenon destroying the environment. Issues such as garbage, oil slicks on rivers and air pollution have been controlled, but it’s what one can’t see with the visible eye that is putting the environment in serious peril.
Persistent organic pollutants leftover from chemically produced garbage in landfills seeps into water systems and are literally changing the sex of animals. Another serious concern is climate change.
For that reason, Earth Day was formed. What began as a call to federal legislators in 1970 now sets the tone for environmentalists worldwide. The Earth Day Network works year round on individual action, policy solutions, consumer issues and with corporations and schools to give all a moral right to a healthy, sustainable environment.
Although the U.S. has been a world leader in many sectors, Rogers states it significantly lags behind other industrial countries who has invested in renewable and green technology to save money and reduce their impact on the earth. The U.S. has also allowed its citizens’ appetite for “stuff” surpass healthy behavioral and environmental efforts.
“The U.S. has let down the rest of the world. We want a renewable resource and if we can’t sustain forests or healthy water or clean air, we’re not going to sustain a lifestyle for future generations,” explained Rogers.
Fortunately Earth Day 2009 is a day when people can begin on a new path. People can take part in local community park clean-up, pledge to reduce meat intake and increase fruits and vegetables or simply join millions in replacing incandescent light bulbs in their homes to energy saving light bulbs.
Citizens putting pressure on local, state and federal officials may be an option to implementing green practices, but Tajuana L. Common, author and entrepreneur states small, daily personal steps make a huge difference.
“One of the easy fixes is when you’re at work – try not to use disposable cups, or combine. errands. Reuse plastic bags if you can’t afford to buy reusable ones. Make the decision to do one thing, like turning off your computer at night,” said Common.
Some believe people are oblivious to the environmental burdens around them, but both Rogers and Common state people became environmentally aware when the cost of heating/cooling their homes and fuel for cars increased.
Four dollar gas, may have led people to take on environmental tasks such as weatherizing their home, but Common states people, especially Blacks, can also take a simpler approach – go back to their roots.
Recycling and reducing may seem like a practice of rich white people but Common states reducing is a part of Black heritage.
“Back in the day, we had gardens. My mother, growing up, grew a garden and canned her food. It’s those basics. Reusing the mayonnaise jars or hanging your clothes on a line; those things are a part of our culture. And we didn’t waste a lot of food or resources then because we didn’t have it.”
In addition to shunning the luxury of convenience and reducing the amount of energy we consume, Rogers adds that people should get out into their community, volunteer their time and clean up their own environments.
“People can jump in and start taking charge of their communities because our officials don’t seem up to it. They’re lobbied, their paid and pressured by corporate interests across the board,” said Rogers. “
Although Rogers is at the helm of Earth Day network and Common used her life experience and a call from Al Gore to write a book titled Ten-Aciously Green, everyday citizens can use Earth Day as the first step to a lifetime of environmentalism.
EARTH DAY INDIANA
A free outdoor
April 25, 2009
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
American Legion Mall and Veterans Memorial Plaza on the corner of Meridian and North streets in downtown Indianapolis
For more information, visit www.earthdayindiana.org