I remember Earth Day being kind of exciting in Elementary School. If the weather was nice we got to spend more time outside and go to our school’s greenhouse. (Despite that my elementary school was in the poorest part of my hometown, we had a greenhouse AND a swimming pool! Thank you government funding for poor kids!) And at the end of the day we were sent home from school with a small tree, roots wrapped in wet paper towels to keep them safe, that we were supposed to plant when we got home.
I always planted them. They never grew. My older brother and sister planted one that grew. In fact, recently my Mom had it cut down because they had planted it too close to the house – she let them plant it wherever they wanted because she just assumed it would die. All the rest died.
As an adult, Earth Day kind of puts me in a pickle. I mean, not just Earth Day, it’s sort of an every day thing, but Earth Day is a glaring reminder of this ongoing inner debate. I am a part of a world that is much more environmentally aware and pro-active than in years gone by. I believe in saving the world – I’m all about it. I used to drag garbage bags of paper to be recycled from my local YMCA because I couldn’t stand the waste. And then I’d drive the half a mile to the recycling center. See the problem? I’m not consistent with my love of Earth.
I can sort of sum it up with a simple Styrofoam cup. We all know that Styrofoam is all kinds of bad, right? It doesn’t break down (though a lot can be recycled now), it has wicked awful chemicals involved in its creation and often plant workers have contracted severe illnesses. You can’t wash and re-use it and you can’t microwave it. (Yes, I also use a microwave – though not often.) Case in point, restaurants should fork out the extra cash and send your leftovers home with you in a container you can take to work the next day and stick in the staff microwave. Except, they can keep the Styrofoam cups. Because I love them. Because they keep my sweet tea cold and they don’t sweat all over my desk. Because they’re so much sturdier. And, did I mention I love them.
See?! I am a bad environmentalist. Like how I buy locally harvested honey and locally made grits and support local bakeries, but I like to buy chicken that bears no resemblance to the actual animal. And that I love the idea of growing my own herbs, but don’t feel so inclined to put in the work. That I know I should cut down on emissions and occasionally take the bus, but I tried it once and a 15 minute drive home took me 2 hours.
So, I think I’ll call Earth Day – Confront that I’m Bad at Saving the Earth Day.
I’ve confronted it now. I can move on. And do my part to guilt people into recycling one white people problem at a time.