Earth Day: Why Bother?


Ah, Earth Day!

A time when the world joins hands to celebrate the rise of eco-awareness and spread the message across the globe!

Or – a time for folk to switch off the lights for a bit, plant a tree and smugly pat themselves on the back that they’ve fixed the planet for another year! (Global warming is still going on? Must be all those slackers who left their lights burning).

So, which of these is the Earth Day we know? Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, the latter is more and more likely as time goes on. That’s the thing about novelty: it only happens once. The impact gets softer, the message gets diluted, and after a while it’s less of a wake-up call than a Snooze button.

Our friends at Grist are so worried about Earth Day and the law of diminishing returns that they’ve formulated a pithy new philosophy. It goes like this:

Screw Earth Day.

Earth Day raised the eco movement to the next level. It bridged the gap between government and grass-roots, and it was influential in the development of the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency.

But it’s been running for nearly forty years. It’s not an Event anymore. And Grist believes that because it’s just a yearly festival, it does precious little to change our habits – and anyway, what difference can one day (especially Earth Day) really make?

“One day is for amateurs. We can do better.”

– Chip Giller, Grist

It’s not about looking green. It’s about being green. Eco-friendliness isn’t a New Year’s resolution – it’s discovering a new lifestyle, bit by bit. It’s about lasting change, not gimmicks. For example, why not make Earth Hour last all year round so we can truly rediscover the dark?

If you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve got over a year’s worth of eco tips for you right here, but we can also recommend having a read of Grist’s brilliant and award-winning Wake Up And Smell The Planet, available for free here (free registration required) – and you’re even entered to win tickets to Bonnaroo.

How has Earth Day changed your outlook on the environment? And is Earth Day worth saving?

Image: James Jordan

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.