Yesterday was Earth Day, and as always, I stopped to take stock. I was slightly depressed because I heard Rush Limbaugh say that “even their strongest proponents agree they’ve had zero impact!” I doubt that the leaders of the environmental movement would agree, but it started me to thinking about Earth Day. Is it a truly important commemoration, or is it just a lot of hot air?
What really bothered me was that the Pennsylvania Primary was scheduled for the same day, and the media coverage of that event sucked all the air out of Earth Day publicity. The average guy scarcely knew it was happening.
To test this, last night I went to visit two neighbors—people I know pretty well but don’t really socialize with. I told them what Earth Day meant to me, and challenged them to make a “gift” to the Earth this next year. That way, when Earth Day rolled around they could feel good about it and perhaps make another gift.
I was in luck. Neighbor “A”, (named Jay), said he was thinking about getting rid of his Tahoe SUV and start driving a Prius. Did I think that would qualify as a “gift”? That’s a no-brainer. He would drive the same distance, but he’d get 40-50 miles/gallon better performance. Neighbor “B” (Paul) was a little more difficult. He asked for suggestions. I gave him the following list:
<li>Plant a tree</li>
<li>Change you household lightbulbs to compact fluorescent as they burn out</li>
<li>Install new weather-stripping on your exterior doors</li>
<li>Set your thermostat up two degrees in the summer and down two degrees in the winter</li>
…the list went on.
Paul thought about it and went beyond it. He was going to replace all his windows with energy efficient ones. (On the negative side, he “hated” the “curly” fluorescent light bulbs and wouldn’t commit to using them.)
I went to bed last night feeling better. Not because I felt like I’d made a difference, but because my neighbors reactions indicated that the message really IS getting across. Maybe we just need better PR!