Lessons From Earth Day

Apr 23rd

solar-dancing-flowerYesterday, as many of you already know, was Earth Day. A day I’d like to think that we can all use Earth Day to take a pause and think about how our actions, individually, are impacting our little piece of the earth. More and more, however, I’ve noticed that Earth Day is falling into the same trap as other holidays – and in the process becoming less about considering the earth and more about an excuse to buy crap.

Yes, Earth Day is following the same path as Thanksgiving, Christmas and even the 4th of July and becoming less about the message of the holiday and more about the commercial gains that can be made.


The proverbial “nail in the coffin” for me was when emails flooded in with “Earth Day Specials” urging me to buy something in order celebrate Earth Day. Now, the irony here is just…..unbelievable.

Perhaps the worst offending email came from my own employer. I work for a large corporation that puts out its own branded goods. For Earth Day they highlighted products such as bamboo USB drives, reusable plastic water bottles and – my favorite – a solar powered plastic dancing flower.

When did Earth Day represent buying plastic goods that cheaply made in developing countries, transported around the world via fossil fuel, purchased by would-be-do-gooders to eventually be tossed in the landfill? How is giving out cheap trinkets and volunteer “prizes” honoring the message of Earth Day?

I know, I’m being harsh. But this is exasperating!

So for Earth Day I made a stand. I didn’t buy or do squat.

Instead, I worked on my new garden (to be revealed in the coming weeks), thought about ways I could lessen my footprint (use quality leather gloves instead of cheapy synthetic garden gloves) and deleted any and all emails that tried to use Earth Day for commercial purposes (yes, even some of my favorite “earth friendly” brands had jumped on the bandwagon pushing products like organic jersey sheets and organic cotton undies).

I know I sound a bit like scrooge here. But my hope is that others will take pause and think about what Earth Day really stands for and what the true message is that we should be teaching our children and peers. Earth Day should be about reflecting and conscious action, not commercialism and materialism.

Photo Credit: Kami Berlima. July 2010.Dancing Flower. Google Image Search, Labeled for Reuse.