Some thoughts on Earth Day
Why is Earth Day important?
- It’s educational.
- It gets people talking about the earth.
- It’s a day to come together and build community.
- it's a date to talk about what we're doing for the earth the other 354 days of the year
Should We Talk About The Earth On Just One Day Of The Year?
No, every day should be Earth Day of sorts. We don't need a small portion of the population doing things perfectly, we need more people doing something imperfectly. Every bit helps.
Whatever initiative, whatever small actions you are taking don't have to be perfect. It just needs to be something. You don't need to overhaul your whole life. You can if that works for you but small changes ARE big change.
So consistently making small changes in your:
- your conversations
- what you notice
- what you care about
- what you learn about
- what you buy
- what you dispose of
- that all makes big change.
The Change One Staple Can Make
I have always cared about the environment. I was on the bleeding edge of it when it was weird to talk about loving garbage. It’s more socially norm now; it’s mainstream. When I went to school for it, it wasn’t quite. My passion is waste. Garbage.
People usually laugh when I say that. After university I went on to work at the oldest farmers market in North America and the biggest in eastern Canada. It was amazing. I loved it there.
In the office, I put out a mason jar to collect staples from paper that was being disposed of. When I first put it out people looked at it (maybe even me) quizzically.
But before I left the market that mason jar was 3/4 full. It served as a daily reminder that small change equals big change.
What's the power in one staple? I think there's a lot of power in one staple because it serves as a steppingstone. If we can think about the impact that one staple multiplied by each person in that office, day over day, has cumulatively, it represents big change.
The last time I went back to visit the market the mason jar was still there. I think it became a habit. So again, what’s the power in one staple? It accumulates, it creates habit, and it builds community.
There's power in small, consistent change. It's hard to change our habits and the way that we do things, but if we can find alternatives and make educated choices and hold conversations around what we're doing that's good.
I think it's important to stay nimble, stay fluid, continue to learn, know that it's OK to change your mind, and know that you don't have to do everything at once.
So here's a piece of advice if you're looking to make a change. Say you’re thinking about changing from plastic straws that are disposable to reusable metal or reusable plastic straws, or you're looking to change up where your food comes from. You’re thinking: do I choose organic, local, or seasonal?
It's important to look at the whole lifecycle. Do a lifecycle analysis.
- where is it coming from
- how is a transported
- what material is it made from: are they new materials or are they recycled
- what is the packaging, does this even need the packaging, is the packaging recyclable
- how long am I going to be able to use this product
- is it easy to take care of
- when I am done with this product what are my options, can it be recycled or is it garbage.
Then make a decision that’s right for you.
One change we've made in my family is that for birthdays we swapped exchanging gifts for experiences. So for my birthday I invited my family and my in-laws to come tour the Otter Lake Landfill. I had previously toured it when I took the Master Composter Recycler course through the HRM. It was such a visual learning opportunity that I wanted them to experience it too. It helps show where 'away' was when you put something in the garbage and also clarified what is and what is not accepted in our facilities here.
So What Who Cares?
Why do we care about:
So, so what who cares? Why do we care about the earth?
The earth is pretty important. We live on it. We need it.
Air, water, food, material, we need all those things daily and we need them to be readily available, safe, and with a secure supply chain. We need to know they’re going to be there tomorrow = sustainability.
Those are pretty important anthropogenically. But what about intrinsically? The earth itself has value.
Biodiversity is the variety of life in an ecosystem. The more biodiversity the more redundancy and resilience in that system.
Since 1970 60% of all mammals, birds, fish and reptiles and 2/3 of our invertebrate friends like bugs and bees have been lost.
So why do we care about it?
Biodiversity is important anthropogenically and intrinsically. We’re facing the sixth mass extinction. There are species that are going to be extinct meaning we are going to lose variety in our ecosystems. By having more than one species capable of filling a role say pollinating the more redundancy and resilience that ecosystem has. It will help avoid collapse of ecosystems
How Can We Help Biodiversity?
See it. Enjoy it. Hear it. Feel it. We’re more likely to care about something and care for something if we understand it. Getting out into nature, connecting to it, understanding that we're part of it. We need to understand that we aren’t separate from it.
We can learn about what the ecosystems need. It's a really interesting situation that people want bats but hate mosquitoes, want butterflies in their yard but not caterpillars on their plants. We’ll cut down a tree and manufacture it so that we can build a birdhouse and put a birdhouse up in our backyard. We don't need to buy a disposable beehouse we need to make sure that those habitats are protected and available for species. It could be as simple as leaving a fallen tree where it is.
Urban areas encroach on biodiversity. We need infrastructure that doesn’t hurt but rather fosters biodiversity. Connect to nature in the city otherwise you won't have the interest to connect with nature outside of the city. We have to see ourselves as part of biodiversity, not apart from it. Biodiversity has to be accessible.
We have to see nature as essential. Nature is the final support that supports us.