Irk Day

Call me a humbug, but I can’t stand token days like these. People wish each other a Happy Earth day, and their deed seems to be done. But really, can you blame them? What else can they do? Unless some TV commercial on lightbulbs or George Stromboulopoulos intervenes, it’s difficult to know just how we, as individuals, can make a difference.

The sad truth is that even with every citizen adopting “acts of green,” the amount of waste and pollution produced by industry alone would still more than double that of each household. Do you have any idea how much trash just one hospital generates? Here‘s an idea.

This reminds me of Rosie O’Donnell’s reaction to the televised 9/11 fundraiser (you know, where Céline sang “God Bless America”). She wondered how producers had the nerve to ask common folk for money, when it should have been corporations and government contributing to the cause.

In much the same way, when it comes to the environment, I think responsibility should begin with the institutions that govern us. It’s not enough for individuals to drive hybrid hatchbacks. It’s the tractor-trailers and airplanes that need to get the green treatment. It’s not enough for citizens to compost their own food. It’s restaurants and grocery stores that need to find a way to reduce their organic waste (most eateries throw out an average of 10 full garbage bags per night, while most household averages 1.5 per week).

Citizens have always been keen to participate when governments take progressive ecological measures and integrate them seamlessly into our daily routines. It’s been proven, time and again, that people will pay a higher fee or a tax increase for greener vehicles (e.g. public transportation). Corporations need even more guidance, but if the right consultant leads the way, companies are usually quite cooperative, probably because at the end of the day, they’re run by citizens.

I guess what I’m getting at is that Earth Day means nothing if we’re not willing, as citizens, to put pressure on our  employers and our government to implement the changes we need to stand a chance against an over-polluted planet. Then we wouldn’t need a token day to remember what we’re not doing.


  1. I too, am a little skeptical of these one day things, especially when it comes to something that is necessary for our survival – the Earth! But I think you’re forgetting that this is a grassroots movement! It has been started by the people with the goal of raising awareness on environmental issues.

    Eventually, one hopes it will make its way up. It has been somewhat embraced by local governments, and maybe in time regulations will reflect this (maybe…. 5 more Earth Days??).

    Loblaws is now charging for plastic bags, the City of Montreal is now enforcing it’s limits on garbage from restaurants and businesses, and Quebec (or is it the city of mtl..) is charging a ‘packaging tax’ for manufacturers…

    I thinks it’s starting to work…

    1. Hey there Jonathan!

      Thanks for your thoughts. Did Montreal finally start charging a packaging tax? I hadn’t heard of that. It was only in the works when I was with the Urban Ecology Centre. That’s great news!

      Otherwise, I guess what I’m saying is that governing institutions need to be even more responsible, and people should focus their attentions on putting pressure on their government rather than trying to impress George Stromboulopoulos. Individual measures are always great, but any of this will only make a real difference when ecological progress is adopted on a larger, institutional scale. So while this is a grassroots movement, it has to grow like weed. Know what I mean? 😉

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