What do I do for Earth Day?

Beech trees are good trees for tree-huggers.
Beech trees are good trees for tree-huggers.

Happy Earth Day everyone. What does one do on a day like today, dedicated to environmental awareness, when you are a nature-loving tree-hugger? It’s a work day, so I’m stuck with whatever I can do over my lunch hour or this evening. Or am I?

The original Earth Day, April 22, 1970, had a certain activist bent to it, so in its honor, I may just continue with my every day somewhat silent, occasionally vocal crusade in my workplace to raise awareness of small ways we can be more earth-friendly. So, I will continue to do the following, maybe less shamefully than I always have, and I encourage you to do the same:

  1. Purple coneflowers are everybody's friend.
    Purple coneflowers are everybody’s friend.

    Turn off my office light if I am gone for more than 20 minutes, even if people mistakenly judge me as a slacker who has left early.

  2. Continue to pull plastic bottles and recyclable paper out of common space garbage cans and put them in the recycling bins two feet away. It’s an ultimately honorable act and can make you feel beautifully self-righteous.
  3. Print out documents and emails only when absolutely necessary and gulp, encourage others to do so, even telling them you don’t need a print out of a document for a meeting. Here’s where you get dangerously close to being a real pain-in-the-ass tree hugger, but you can handle it.
  4. I will always use the smaller Garamond font, so if I do need to print something out, it will use less paper. Plus, it’s a beautiful font.
  5. I will use real silverware and wash it at the office, rather than take the quick easy route and burn through the plasticware.
  6. I will gently, in passing, suggest that my co-workers make sure their computers go to sleep/standby mode after 15 minutes and I will make my IT manager’s day and always turn off my computer at the end of the day.

Digital Painting of a ButterflyWhat they hell do you do, though, about the excessive waste you see everywhere? The tons of little plastic containers. The single use cups. The enormous vehicles exhaust fuming down the highway. The plastic water bottles pell mell. In my world, this is where Earth Day and doing your part and affecting change collide and create confusion.

Is it enough to settle on simply doing one’s small part as much as possible, whenever possible. Well, what’s our choice but to just settle on the single small acts. Here’s a small act that seems big to me, but I am committing to: No more using the Keurig machine at work. Keurig has said it will start to make recyclable single use K-cups…by  2020! Come on, Keurig. So, it’s the old-fashioned brew for me.

I will not be giving up my Swiffer, though. Don’t worry nature-lovers. I don’t clean enough to have the single use pads be a menace.


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