Author: Vivian Corban, Citizen Journalist
Valentine’s Day celebrates romantic love; Grandparents Day – grandparents; Fathers’ Day – fathers; and Mothers’ Day – well, you guessed it – mothers. In fact, thanks to Madison Ave, every day can be a “Hallmark day” to acknowledge someone special.
So what about International Mother Earth Day – Mom-E’s turn to feel the love? One would think that, with agricultural land held in reverence, there would be an outpouring of love for the “big blue marble”, right? Wrong.
Calls to Central and North Saanich, Sidney, the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, the Sidney Business Association, Peninsula Celebration, and Tourist Information regarding Earth Day events netted zero results. Apparently no one plans to lay some love on Mother Earth.
Even business seems too busy to wish Mom-E a happy day. Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre concentrates on Oceans Day in June, and at the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary, “Every day is Earth Day,” says Scott Mair, Program Director. Nevertheless, Swan Lake wraps up the traditional week of – er – Earth Day non-events, with regularly scheduled songs, games, and activities at the Nature Centre on Sunday April 29th. Admission is free, although they gratefully welcome donations.
In fact the only call that netted an affirmative response was to the office of the Saanich-Gulf Islands Green Party, where Executive Director Fred Gregory stated an event still in the planning stages would kick off Earth Week on Saturday April 21st.
Is it possible nobody knows about Earth Day?
That hardly seems likely.
The term ‘Earth Day’ was coined in 1969 at a UNESCO conference, and first celebrated on March 21st 1970. Around the same time it was also promoted on April 22nd. Gaining popularity it went international in 1990. In 2009 the United Nations finally proclaimed April 22nd as International Mother Earth Day. More than 171 countries stage week-long events promoting environmental awareness.
But why wait for your community to plan something special? Head over to Stelly’s Secondary School on Saturday April 29th with a nice gift for Mother Earth – all those saved-up recyclables that you, your family, your friends, your neighbours, and the blue box don’t want.
National Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has a high regard for Stelly’s and the soft plastic recycling program, where she along with other green-minded citizens cheerfully line up to unload a wealth of recyclables far beyond mere soft plastics. (See Sept issue – Recycling – A New Generation). Additionally every day hundreds of staff and students at Stelly’s make use of recycling receptacles placed strategically around the school. A staunch recycler herself, Ms May offers insight into the worth of a yogurt tub.
“When you look at an empty plastic yogurt tub – you can think, ‘Okay this is garbage’… or you can look at it and say, ‘On a life-cycle basis this is embedded energy. This took petrochemicals as a feedstock using a very expensive and difficult process to make what was essentially an oil product into a plastic. If we put it in the landfill it will basically never break down.’ So if you start looking at it from the point of view of what is your responsibility as a consumer? What do you do with it? … Well sometimes its highest use is to keep refilling it; to figure out how to make your own yogurt and use it over and over. That’s probably its highest use, but at a minimum don’t put it in the garbage – at the very least put it in the recycling.”
Environmental awareness is not reserved for Earth Day, and can easily be promoted by any of today’s tech-savvy youth.
“I was in South Africa at the climate negotiations,” says Elizabeth, “and I was feeling a little mopey and homesick. I checked my daughter’s Facebook page and I was so proud as a mom. I was absolutely thrilled. She had blanketed her Facebook page for days with messages about – ‘Take Action’ – ‘Save Kyoto’ – ‘Canada’s in Durban Right Now’… She was even posting my blog and spreading the word on her Facebook page. There’s a fair amount of activism in social media.”
Tech-savvy or not, there are a multitude of gifts you can give to Mother Earth every day, starting with saving fuel by shopping in your own back yard. And like any good mom, Mother Earth knows it’s the thought that counts – you don’t even have to gift wrap it.