The Green Leaf

Celebrate Earth Day

April 22nd, 2011
Native forest overlooking Kaaawa Valley and Kualoa Ranch. Photo by Nathan Yuen.

Native forest overlooking Kaaawa Valley and Kualoa Ranch. Photo by Nathan Yuen.

Today is Earth Day.

You've heard it many times, but you're going to hear it again — "Every day should be Earth Day."

Still, today is an opportune day to take one, single action that could make a difference: skip the plastic bag at the convenience store, for instance. Buy the local eggs instead of mainland eggs. Walk, instead of drive, to the next block. Bring your own bag to the grocery store.

If you already do all that, think of what more you could do — bring reusable produce bags or don't bag your apples (you don't need to if you just have a few).

Pick up that plastic bottle at the beach and recycle it, plant ma‘o hau hele in your yard, and bring your own reusable coffee cup to the cafe (I hear Starbucks is offering free coffee to anyone who does today).

Better yet, celebrate! Go out and climb the Koolaus, enjoy the broad, sweeping view at the top, jump in the ocean and enjoy the waves crashing over you, and think about what would happen if an oil spill destroyed all of that.

You get the idea.

On this Earth Day, I think back to a friend who came to visit from the mainland just for a few days. We went on a short, scenic hike, and she just started picking up litter from the trail. "What are you doing?" I asked. "Picking up trash," she said.

She didn't think of it as, 'I'm on vacation and it's someone else's job to pick up trash, anyways.' Her philosophy is to: "Leave a place better than it was when I got there."

There's no question that Earth Day has become a marketing opportunity, not much different from Valentine's Day. Got a couple pitches from people who wanted to sell their products on Earth Day.

Here's a little history: The first Earth Day was observed across the U.S. on April 22, 1970.

Earth Day was founded by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson as a way to rally public support for environmental protections. He got the idea for Earth Day not long after surveying an oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif. Forty-one years later, Earth Day falls just two days after the one-year anniversary of the BP's Deepwater Horizon spilled oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

An estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf, wiping out livelihoods as well as wildlife. These photos tell the story.

Though we're in the Pacific, we are not untouched by one of the most disastrous oil spills in U.S. history. What lessons did we learn? What can we do to prevent it from happening again?

Whether you already recycle, compost, or ride your bike, we all could probably think of one more way to keep this earth green. Besides the bigger picture,  it's in the choices you make in your day to day life.

Click here for Earth Day happenings, including beach clean-ups, a community workday, films, and plastic-free shopping at Whole Foods Market.

One Response to “Celebrate Earth Day”

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