Forty-eight years ago, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin was disturbed that an issue as important as our environment was not addressed in politics or by the media, so he created the first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970.
Despite the fact that millions of people have participated over the years, since 2017, our nation has taken gigantic steps to erode any progress toward protecting this planet. Some 67 environmental rules have been overturned including anti-dumping rules for coal companies (forget clean water and air), methane reporting, and a ban on a potentially harmful pesticide that can harm children. Scientists have been replaced by lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry and data related to climate change has been taken off the EPA web site. And much has been made of this Administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate accord, making us now the one of only three countries out of 197 nations that isn't signed onto the agreement, with the other two being Nicaragua and Syria.
It is said you are known by the company you keep. We are not in good company.
But—there is still hope. Individual effort and companies that demonstrate social responsibility for our planet are making headway despite the actions in DC.
In 2016, Triple Pundit reported on companies that were working with employees to protect the environment. The outdoor shoe manufacturer, Timberland, gives employees 40 paid volunteer hours per year to work on environmentally-attuned service projects. Timberland also uses recycled paper in its shoe boxes and reports the water and energy usage needed to produce each shoe.
Technology start-up, Optoro, reduces landfill waste by helping clients extend the lifecycle of their overstocked, outdated, or returned inventory. While their products create a more sustainable supply chain for retailers, Optoro also does its part to improve local ecosystems by providing employees with plenty of environmental volunteer opportunities.
UGE International has deployed renewable energy solutions in over 80 countries around the world. Best-known for putting wind turbines on the Eiffel Tower and installing solar on rooftops in China, the company also encourages its employees to give back to their local community. Read more about these companies here. But we don’t have to have a company to do our part in saving Mother Earth. Small steps, when put together one-by-one, can have a large impact. In our house, we recycle everything, flush the toilets using the California mantra, have installed low flow shower heads, and reduced the size of our garden to a minimal plot. We buy locally as much as possible to reduce the carbon footprint from trucks, and reward companies like Patagonia with our buying power. We also try and stay informed about what citizens can do to protect our Mother Earth. Paul Hawken, an environmental activist, has edited a very dense book,DRAWDOWN. Don’t worry about “dense”. It has small chapters that can be selected based upon interest, lots of pictures, and fascinating in its comprehensive nature. ACTIVE HOPE: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy, draws on decades of teaching an approach known as Work that Reconnects. Authors Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone show us how to strengthen our capacity to face environmental crisis so we can respond with resilience and creative power. Enough reading! April 20th is a Friday. Go outside wherever you are. Breathe deeply. Walk in nature. Gaze into the eyes of a child—the generation we must protect. Be grateful for what we do have. Thank you for reading.