My Problem With Earth Day

Yes, you read the headline correctly.  I, Eric Novak, aka Enviro Dad have a problem with Earth Day.

Now having said that, I should probably explain what I mean.

To be clear, I’m not against celebrating our planet or all things environmental.  Certainly any opportunity to educate, inform and inspire people everywhere about our relationship with Terra Firma is a good thing.  However, the problem with creating a single day that focuses on the environment is that some people focus their eco-efforts around this one day and one day alone.

While Earth Day draws attention to the environment and our relationship with it, the reality is that if we are ever to right the eco-wrongs of the past half century, we need to turn EVERY DAY INTO EARTH DAY and not focus our eco-attention to a single day each year.

Too many people feel that simply cleaning up some garbage or spending a few minutes talking about the environment means they are doing their part.  The rest of the year though, the environment is something they are aware of but not engaged with, and frankly this is where things need to change.

Earlier this week I had a PR rep call me to ask if I’d be willing to work with their client to get out some messages about their green initiatives during Earth Week.  When I told them that I was booked up but would be willing to consider ideas perhaps in May, the rep said that they wanted to focus only on the one week and not beyond.

My wish would be to see Earth Day evolve from a day of token attention and limited action, to one where it acts as a springboard for fundamental and long term change.  Instead of using Earth Day to draw attention to the struggles and challenges we face, I feel it would be better if we globally accepted the day as one where we celebrate our eco-success and inspire others to do the same.

Heck, if Christmas can be stretched out over months into a “Holiday Season” then I’d dare think Mother Nature would be just as deserving of a similar treatment!

Before anyone raises the issue, yes I realize that Earth Day celebrations around the world can include and in fact, do include many of the things I wish for.  For all those who use Earth Day to inspire rather than deflate, I both salute and applaud you.  However we’re kidding ourselves if we didn’t recognize that too many people see Earth Day as more of a token gesture that somehow allows them to relieve their eco-guilt that is accumulated during the 364 other days of the year when eco-activism isn’t the priority for them that it needs to be.

Many families talk about the 3 R’s of environmentalism on Earth Day.  However this year I would like to ask everyone to consider changing this discussion from talking about the 3 R’s to talking about the 4 R’s instead.  We absolutely need to talk about how we REDUCE our consumption and our waste.  We also need to REUSE whatever and whenever we can.  Where things cannot be reused, we need to diligently RECYCLE everything possible, but in addition to all the above we need to RETHINK many of the misconceptions we’ve had for far too long.

Earth Day is a great moment to recognize and appreciate all that we have been entrusted with as stewards of our planet.  However, what I would like to ask everyone reading this is that you commit to using Earth Day as a springboard as opposed to a landing pad; to make this the defining Tipping Point where we no longer accept the abuses we have perpetrated to our home, and recognize that we owe it to our children to fix the damage and pass it on just as we received it from our ancestors.

If we can all do this, then I’ll never have a problem with Earth Day again.

Eric Novak

About Eric Novak

Eric Novak is a father of 4 who also thinks that environmental stewardship is a requisite of parenting. He's not a professional Dad nor is he an environmental scientist, but he's someone who gives a damn and is trying to make the right decisions as he lives his life as a father, environmentalist and business owner. Eric and his wife Karen have 4 children and reside in Ajax, Ontario.