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.