If you knew me personally you’d know that I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to environmental advocacy. Not because I don’t believe that we need environmental advocates mind you, we do. It’s also not because I don’t think that there are groups who do amazing and necessary work, there are.
It is, quite simply, because the majority of environmental groups ignore the single biggest contributor to the detriment of our environment: animal agribusiness. And as algebra has taught us, both sides of the equation must be addressed to fully solve the problem. Veganism is part of the solving the environmental equation, plain and simple.
Today is Earth Day. Founded in 1970 by US Senator Gaylor Nelson, Earth Day is a holiday where the public’s attention is turned to the environment via advertisements for superficial eco-green-organic products and greenwashing by some of the largest/dirtiest corporations (and politicians), and events that promote environmental change while serving up animal-based food that causes the destruction of said environment.
To me, Earth Day is a lot like Arbor Day, a holiday to celebrate something we should be doing anyway. Every day should be Earth Day, every single one. Just as I don’t need Valentine’s Day to say ‘I Love You,’ I don’t need a holiday to tell me not to destroy the planet I live on. But that’s just me. Like I said, I’m a cynic about this kind of stuff.
YE OLE STANDARD DISCLAIMER / PREEMPTIVE REBUTTAL STATEMENT: If you are about to furiously type me a comment about how “every little bit counts,” let me just stop you before you type. I know that every action counts, no matter the size, and I agree that we all should be recycling and reusing where ever and whenever we can. Of course. But here’s the bottom line, our environment will continue to deteriorate until we take a hard and honest look at our food system. It doesn’t matter how many light bulbs we replace, how many eco-friendly BPA free water bottles we carry, or whether our sheets are organic cotton- if animals are being consumed in any way, then we are directly contributing to a problem that is only going to get worse. And that’s just what it’s doing to us, it’s literally killing the animals.
If I wasn’t such a cynic I’d tell you that there are lots of ways to celebrate Earth Day, because there are.
- Plant a tree! By now we’ve all heard about deforestation, but did you know that 12-15 hectares of forest are lost each year, the equivalent of 36 football fields per minute? Forests cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area, but could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation. The effects of deforestation are commonly documented: It’s bad for the environment, it’s bad for the animals, and it drives climate change, just to name a few.
- Clean up the neighborhood! Trash, plastic bags, old food containers, cigarette butts, and other detritus can spell trouble for animals if consumed. Grab some protective gear (gloves, mask, boots, etc.) and get cleaning/recycling.
- Host a vegan lunch/dinner. Environmentally friendly food and good company is an awesome mix for a celebration.
- Find a celebration. Earth Day Network members host 10,000 Earth Day events around the world. The theme of the 2014 Earth Day is Green Cities and you can find a listing of Earth Day Events on their website.
- This year NASA is asking people to take a photo of themselves outside and post it to social media using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie. NASA will use the images to create a mosaic image of Earth – a new “Blue Marble” built bit by bit with your photos. Get more info on how to participate in #GlobalSelfie on their website.
But I am a cynic. So, I’ve got only one piece of advice for getting through Earth Day:
#1. Prevent injury from the excessive eye-rolling you’ll be doing by performing eye exercises to build strength.
Just kidding (mostly).
Happy Earth Day y’all, go hug a tree.