In honor of the 46th Annual Earth Day, I think it’s important to take a moment to recognize and become conscious of the efforts worldwide that people are making to spread awareness and implement cleaner, greener habits to live by. Though days like this are great, it’s a shame that they’re confined to one day, and every other day of the year people don’t take the time to adapt a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
As I was walking out of Kimmel this morning, I saw that there was a small section of the street blocked off with tents and activities. I was curious, so I stepped in to the street fair on LaGuardia to see what was going on – and realized that there were a bunch of environmentally-relevant clubs and organizations advocating for Earth Day and trying to raise awareness for the issues they stand by. The organizations that were present included NYU Bike Share, the Community Agriculture Club, NYU Dining, the Office of Sustainability, among others.
I thought it was a great effort to raise awareness and to learn more about the options NYU has to be greener and to become involved in environmental organizations. However, I didn’t hear anything about the street fair before I passed it…and while there were people there, it definitely wasn’t as crowded as I think it should have been. Unfortunately, events like this don’t gain as much momentum as they should – and are short-lived. While there are the few who adapt environmentally friendly lifestyles, it definitely is not the majority. Many people only pay attention to how this affects them. The problem with events like this is that although they advocate and draw attention on the street, enough to make the curious student walk in to see what’s going on, people are more interested in all the free stuff than in the actual reasons behind the event.
I looked up more about the street fair and what NYU is doing for Earth Day out of curiosity. I found out that NYU actually has been celebrating Earth Day for the whole month, with various events and activities for students and the general public. To me, it was sad that though I recall hearing about some of these events and getting emails and Facebook invites about them, there really was no “buzz” around the events. Still, I do have to give NYU and all the organizations involved credit for putting together the activities, events, and initiatives for this whole month.
After looking at what NYU was doing for Earth Day, I took a look at what people around the world are doing to celebrate Earth Day. I was pleasantly surprised in learning that everywhere around the world there are mass celebrations and events in which people are participating. There are a vast array of organized events, from lectures and conferences, to outreach programs, to painting murals, planting trees, and picking up litter.
I also was happy to learn that Earth Day is the most largely celebrated secular holiday in the world – which gave me a lot of hope. Though I don’t think Earth Day and environmental consciousness should be confined to one day, I do think that it is a day effective in raising awareness and encouraging people to learn about the problems facing our planet.
Unfortunately, while reading up on Earth Day, I found out that the United States federal government is actually one of the largest polluters in the world. As a leading superpower, the government of the United States has a responsibility to practice habits and implement programs that are beneficial to the environment. After all, it was the United States own Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin that created Earth Day in 1970 in order to create environmental awareness and build a movement to pollute and harm the planet less.
This Earth Day, everyone should take a moment to learn more about the issues, and also to figure out what we can do on a personal, grassroots level to help the movement progress. As individuals, though it may be more difficult to organize, we do have the collective power to decrease our negative impact on the environment. Even if it is by doing the small things – like turning the lights off when you leave the room, taking shorter showers, and recycling – we should be practicing them daily so as to not add on to the ways our species is harming the planet.
Fortunately, these are practices we have been taught about since elementary school, and it’s a good place to start to encourage children to partake in these actions, and in turn hopefully they will also encourage their friends and family to also practice these habits.
It won’t be easy, but it can be done. As the movement and awareness for the environment grows, we can help the planet and make every day Earth Day, instead of just April 22nd every year.