Earth Day Confessions

Eighteen years ago I wished Earth Day could actually be a holiday for the Earth. Today I felt both sad and satisfied that April 22nd now verges on that reality, and has at least become a mainstream day of awareness and reflection.

I started the day with the best intentions. I remembered to take a cup to fill with fair-trade coffee. I walked my son to school, rode my bike to pick him up (felt like a third-world family on the way home, with on the back rack trying not to get his shoelaces caught in the derailleur). I started dinner in the solar oven at 2pm.

A day without the TV gives a person lots of extra time to wonder about stuff. I wondered what Earth Day might be like in 20 more years. Or 200. Or 2000. Will organic become the kosher of the future? Will our descendants consider it an actual sin to flush the toilet for pee? Will wearing clothes made in other countries be a mitzvah of connection, or require atonement? Will a Blade Runner future come true, where it’s illegal to have a wallet made of real leather?

Forgive me Mother, for I have failed. I threw four plastic bags away today. I ran the electric vacuum for a long time (it’s also spring cleaning), and put two dustpans of dirt in the trash, not compost or outside. I had to use the car to drive Donald to piano lessons when we got halfway there on bikes and realized he’d forgotten his music. I let shade creep over the solar cooker and had to run the microwave for two minutes to finish cooking the cauliflower. I killed a few bugs.

It’s nice to know people care more now, and more people have the vocabulary to discuss the whims and plans of nature. It’s nice to have a conversation about conservation without revealing I'm way beyond granola (prefer müesli). But it’s scary that we are way beyond 350. It’s sad to see dead honeybees, more every week, on my stairs when I sweep. I wish people had taken Earth Day seriously 18 years ago. I hope it’s not too late. I have to believe every little bit helps.