It's Earth Day! And it's the little things that matter!
***Originally posted 4/22/19 on @publiclandshateyou***
Today marks the 49th anniversary of the first Earth Day. Originally organized by then WI Senator Gaylord Nelson after he watched the CA coast near Santa Barbara get ravaged by a 3-million-gallon oil spill, Earth Day was intended to bring environmental stewardship to the forefront of an American conscious that had been long preoccupied with capitalism, growth, greed, and war. The results were astounding. 10,000 schools, 1,500 universities, and over 20 million people were estimated to have participated in the first Earth Day on 4/22/1970. Outrage over the oil spill, and the subsequent success of the first Earth Day, resulted in enough grassroots support to push politicians to create the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in late 1970 and pass the Clean Water Act in 1972. Both of these were, and still are, instrumental to curbing pollution and protecting the environment in the USA from corporate interests (although the recently gutted EPA has much duller teeth, but that's another story). It seems now that there is a new threat - Individuals who are too busy worrying how to best promote themselves and their personal brands at the cost of our environment and our public lands. They'll do whatever it takes to get the perfect shot, create the most unique edit, and capture that illusive angle that has never been captured before. They think they can justify their actions with cute hashtags like #nopoppieswereharmed, #naturefirst, and #vegan, but in reality, #actionsspeaklouderthanwords would be more appropriate. The result of these actions is death by a million cuts for our public lands. Trampled wildflowers in CA, salt flats in UT covered with purple holi powder, caves in AL filled with smoke, drones buzzing overhead in CO wilderness areas, and on and on and on. Sure, there are bigger issues like climate change, pollution, and world peace. I have no delusions about that. However, I firmly believe that those big issues can be solved by making small changes like thinking beyond what's best for "me me me" in the moment and thinking about how your actions right now are going to impact others days, months, and years down the road. .
It might seem like a daunting task, but it really isn't. It's as simple as thinking things like "Where did this item I want to purchase come from and where will it go when I'm done with it?", "How are my actions right now going to leave this place for the person who comes after me?", and "How is the power I'm using generated and what can I do to reduce my consumption?"
Those are all questions that I feel people don't ask themselves enough. So yes, I encourage everyone to get out there this Earth Day and clean up trash, plant a tree, or volunteer for an environmental organization. But I also implore you to take 10 minutes out of your day for a thought exercise about the small changes you can make every single day that will help make this planet a better place for everyone, including yourself.