On the one hand, I care deeply about the earth and all that dwells therein, and am deeply concerned about the current crisis of environmental degradation. So, any attention paid to the crisis is a plus.
On the other hand, I fear that this one big splash a year leads to a sense of complacency, even for those who care. It goes something like this: I care about the earth. Today is Earth Day. I’ll do something today, (like post a picture on Facebook), to show that I’m green.
And then tomorrow, we all go on as usual. It feels a little like the environmental version of those who go to church on Christmas and Easter. I love having them there. I wonder what we could do together if it was a consistent practice rather than a one-day-and-done kind of deal.
So, I’d like to make a suggestion. Take this Earth Day 2015 make the first stop on a year-long journey. Decide that you will do something — even if it’s only one thing — to become better steward of the earth. Commit yourself to the practice with a long view, until it becomes not only a habit, but the way you live.
I’m actually going to commit to two things, both of which I’ve experimented with off and on, but haven’t made the commitment to the longterm.
First, I’m going to commit to keeping the car in the garage at least one day a week. My own driving habits, unfortunately have reflected our culture’s love affair with the automobile. The way I use my car suggests that I value convenience more than the stewardship of the earth. I live only 2.5 miles from where I work, and I can easily walk or ride my bike. And even if I unexpectedly need the care during the day, it really doesn’t take that long to get home for the car.
Second, I’m going to commit to a decrease in our family’s reliance on animal protein. The amount of land and resources devoted to the production of animals for human consumption in the US is not sustainable. It takes 11 times more fossil fuel to produce a kcal of animal protein than a kcal of plant protein. Part of my new commitment will be to go meatless one day a week, but part of it also is simply to decrease the amount of meat I use when I do cook with meat.
Too often and too easily I worship the god of convenience. I care about the environment, but it takes effort to act. If observing something like Earth Day is really going to make a difference, it’s going to be in the action. I’m making my commitment. What will you do?