What is Earth Day?

After witnessing the ravages of a 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif., Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin was inspired by the student anti-war movement of the day. Since childhood, he’d been a champion of the environment. On April 22, 1970 he used his passion to ignite an emerging public consciousness and directed the flame of stewardship toward the educational platform of air and water pollution. Twenty million people marched for environmental reform. Earth Day was born.

The significance? Environmental protection was forced onto the national agenda. This year marks the 45th anniversary of our conscious awakening to the fact that our environment needs protection. It’s hard to imagine people who aren’t conscious of this, but looking at the state of affairs of our environment, it’s evident that our environment needs protection now more than ever. Every year during the onslaught of our majestic Northwest spring, we’re reminded to cherish our mothers. Mother Earth is the queen of mothers, and she should be of no exception.

Why celebrate Earth Day?

When you think about it, our planet is quite the magical entity. It’s so massive from our perspective. Alive and full of abundant life! A big blue dot rotating and spinning in the expanse of space and we small earthlings, for the most part, rarely take the time to really look in awe at this beautiful planet 92,956,050 miles from the Sun. It’s pretty awesome that the perfect balance for life as we know it in our solar system exists only on Earth.

There is so much said about gratitude these days. Oprah speaks frequently about documenting your gratitude daily and watching it change your life. I recently took up the challenge and I must say, something in my life has shifted. There is a new levity from deep within that’s allowed me to see new possibilities and new opportunities. Or maybe just simply see old opportunities in new ways.

While celebrating Earth day this week, let’s begin to be open to possibility. The power of the possibility that our single, personal efforts, no matter how great or small, can make a difference.

#1: Celebrate Earth Day by showing gratitude & consciousness

Celebrating Earth Day is a wonderful form of gratitude that we are so lucky to be alive on this planet and share a home called Earth.

So what else does all this gratitude have to do with Earth Day? I’m putting a call out to everyone who reads this article. Bring to your conscious mind what would happen if we suddenly weren’t 92,956,050 miles from the Sun. Really think about the opportunity we have for life here.

Now I want you to reflect on your life. Where in your life does simple gratitude for being alive on this planet show up? What is it that really competes with being more grateful? What is it that you are cherishing, yearning for, demanding or being a good steward to? Do you see the many opportunities to be grateful? There is so much we can do to show our gratitude. But what are we doing? We’re using our natural resources at such alarming rates that California will run out of water within one year unless we make a drastic change. Time to wake up. Time to get conscious and be the leader we seek that will change our priorities from within our homes, communities, states, countries and our continents.

#2: Celebrate through consciousness, education and creating new habits

With the abundance of resources the Earth freely gives us, we must ask the question: are we being good stewards? Are we tending our fields in ways that are sustainable? Are we raising animals for consumption in ways that don’t destroy our environment or challenge water supplies? If you were Earth, would you be happy with how the planet is being cared for?

For example, almond crops use an insane amount of water. Ten percent of all of California’s water consumption goes to almond farming! Do we really love almonds that much? Since each tiny nut requires a gallon of water, almonds are consuming 1.07 trillion gallons annually in California; one-fifth more than Californian families use indoors. About 80 percent of the global almond demand is supplied by California. See the recipe for disaster?

And what about beef? Dairy cows require massive amounts of water to produce milk. A cow requires approximately 40 liters a day as compared to a dairy cow, which needs 115 liters a day. Makes me really consider even my minor milk and rare beef consumption (no pun intended). And don’t forget about all the forest clearing required to create grazing fields for cows. Loss, loss, loss.

I’ve highlighted only two examples of how we are not being good stewards. Unfortunately, the list is alarmingly long. How does that make you feel?

As those who think of themselves as good people, can we begin to call our stewardship to a higher field of consciousness? So many questions but the answers are all quite simple. Answers must be simple in order to make this critically necessary paradigm shift happen.

So, on this Earth Day, I challenge you to look at your own beliefs about our planet. How are you caring for it? Educate yourself on personal choices that might need shifting so you can better care for our Mother Earth.

Teach your family about recycling and composting. Remove your front lawn and replace it with a garden. I don’t mean to be a bossy pants here, but think about what this one act alone can do for your life and the example it can set for your family and your neighbors. It would create real bonding opportunities all around and show how we can actually grow our own produce and reduce our burden. This is one beautiful crown of sustainability! I really love this idea and can’t wait to move out of my apartment soon and into a house where I can do this!

#3: Celebrate Earth Day by connecting with your community on the topic of sustainability

On any given day there are so many choices to make that either support sustainability or diminish our ability to be self-sustaining. Replenishing, protecting and caring for our planet like the Native Americans did is not an impossible task. Their beliefs are structured around caring for the planet in a way that would ensure the next seven generations a healthy home to share. They sure could teach us a thing or two about honoring Mother Earth. Are you living a lifestyle that honors the planet for the next seven generations? If not, let’s all wake up and actively start changing the way we think about our lifestyles.

Are you buying local to support local merchants committed to reducing our carbon footprint? Have you met your neighbors? Do you know their names? I found when I actually got to know the people I lived next to, so many opportunities came up that made me feel much more connected to life on this big blue dot. In my community of Ballard, there is a big block party going on this Friday to celebrate our collective home and learn more about what we can do to keep it clean, spinning and abundantly thriving.

Let’s get together and support each other in this paradigm shift. Check out your local neighborhood chamber of commerce or neighborhood event websites for more options to see what your community is doing to promote sustainability.

#4: Celebrate Earth Day by participating in a community cleanup effort and then go plant a tree

In Seattle, the Annual Beach 2 bridge Community Service Weekend is happening on April 25 and 26 where neighbors across the Rainier Valley – from Mt. Baker to Rainier Beach – will celebrate Earth Day by joining in a community-wide clean up and beautification effort.

Many pea patches around the Seattle area are having celebrations of gratitude and sharing their abundance from Mother Earth. Check out the Seattle City website to see how abundant the Seattle Pea Patch program is. Or consider this rich list of other urban gardening opportunities.

Let’s get dirty. For Earth’s sake!

Or on Saturday, April 25, get out into the largest swath of old growth forest at Seward Park in Seattle for a conservation project facilitated by teen leaders. What an opportunity to see the youth of today really get it and inspire us to be better stewards of our planet.

Let’s face it, there is so much more all of us can do and it doesn’t have to be hard.

There is a great need, and growing support, for the introduction of new values in our society—where bigger is not necessarily better—where slower can be faster—and where less can be more.Gaylord Nelson, 1970

Let’s show Mother Earth that we are children who are willing to shift some attitudes and habits to ones that are more sustainable for us personally as well as for the collective whole. I challenge all to positively explore ways in which you can become the best steward who’ll protect, cultivate and defend our natural resources. Become more aware of where you waste water and electricity. Consider installing solar panels. The government actually gives you some pretty amazing incentives for lessening your individual take from the grid. How about exploring the option of a hybrid or an electric car? I’ll definitely be changing my car by the end of the year to something more environmentally friendly.

So, as we celebrate the 45th Earth Day, I ask: can you actively choose to be more conscious of how you personally, physically, emotionally and spiritually treat the planet? I raise my hand to that and invite you to raise yours with me. Help educate each other and celebrate the new steps you take to connect and conserve our precious Mother’s resources. Share this article and show that you stand for sustainability.

I promise you, once you begin this journey of actually connecting to Mother Earth, she won’t disappoint you with how generous she can be. Nature is my queen and this weekend I will for sure bow down to her.

[photo by Alice Popkorn – CC BY]

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