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Earth Day is Not Christmas

Christmas only comes once a year, but I’m just not sure that the same should be true for Earth day.

There are a lot of reasons that we couldn’t have Christmas more than once a year. It obviously wouldn’t make any sense religiously, but even as just a celebration, multiple Christmases would not be sustainable. Christmas is expensive. It’s a display of opulent excess for a large part of the Christian world. Basically a giant festival of consumerism and waste.

Christmas may actually be the opposite of Earth day, not in spirit, but certainly on the impact it has on the Earth.

Earth day on the other hand, should be held at least once a month. Not just as a celebration, but as a time to check in and really look at the foot print we are leaving on this planet.

The Earth deserves more than one day in the spotlight and we owe it to ourselves to start to build in some education and accountability towards this place that we live. The last time I checked, this was the only planet that was habitable and it would be nice to think that it could stay that way (I know there are some speculations about Mars, but living with high radiation, no animals, no plants, no water on a planet where going outside would mean death doesn’t appeal to me personally.)

The Earth is here, complete with everything we need to survive. The only catch is that we need to stop wrecking the place.

We need a focus on sustainability every day.

It’s great to celebrate the Earth and all the amazing beauty and diversity that we are so lucky to have on this planet. But, if there were to be a monthly Earth day that was going to make a difference to life on this planet, then it would need to be heavy on sustainability and light on celebration.

Sustainability is a simple idea that takes some thought and care to implement. If you shift yourself to a sustainable mindset, instead of asking what affects your habits and behaviours are having today, you ask yourself how your actions will affect the Earth for the next 7 generations. That’s right, setting up the planet so that your grandchildren’s grandchildren can have grandchildren.

Now, sustainability when it comes to continued human life on Earth, is not just about the environment. Don’t get me wrong, the environment is a hugely important piece of our continuous life cycle, but because we’re animals that like to complicate things, there are two other important parts to sustainability.

Social sustainability is not about how many friends you have on your social media. It’s about Black Lives Matter, it’s about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, it’s about rights to education, health care, jobs and housing. It’s about peace and acceptance among neighbours, among cultures, across the world.

Economic sustainability is about understanding when you have enough instead of always believing that you need more. Ending poverty, growing Fair Trade, and actually ending slavery (yes, slavery still exists in many forms in our modern world, check here for more info) would be some things that are necessary to achieve economic sustainability.

Basically, living sustainably comes back to those fundamental lessons that your kindergarten teacher tried desperately to instill in you: be kind, share with others, clean up after yourself.

That’s it. If we could all really live with those principles in mind, the world would transform.

I am reminded of how far we are from that transformation when I look at the Forbes list of billionaires. A list that has grown by 660 people over the last covid crisis year. It is insane that there are so many billionaires in a world so fraught by poverty and disaster.

There are no billionaires in kindergarten. Now, billionaires may be just as kind as anyone else, but they’re definitely failing in the category of sharing. As these few billionaires accumulate more and more wealth, more than half the world is living in poverty.

Imagine if straight across the world, we could agree that no one needs to have more than a billion dollars. What if all those extra billions were reinvested into sustainable community agriculture, community schools and libraries, building wells, creating health care training and sending supplies to under funded countries?

I know that isn’t going to happen. It isn’t going to happen because as a species we value money over everything else. Over happiness, over community, over equality and definitely over sustainability.

We can blame the billionaires because it’s easy, but blaming isn’t going to make the world a better place. Blaming is not kind.

If we are truly going to move towards a sustainable world, then we each need to take responsibility for changing our value system to match the change we want to see in the world. We need to be kind even when it is more appealing to be right. We need to share even when we want more (and more, and more). We need to clean up after ourselves even when it feels like a lot of work.

We need to value the good of our global community over immediate gratification. Only then can Earth day celebration fade into the background as a once a year celebration. Only then will everyday be Earth day.

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