A single day has never been enough time to instill an earth-friendly ethic. Sure, establishing Earth 'Day' in 1972 was a milestone and a public eye-opener. But nowadays going to a ‘festival’ to look at displays or bringing up the subject for a brief lesson in the classroom seems incredibly inadequate toward achieving the long-term changes we need to save our planet.
Still, since that first Earth Day, we have learned how to recycle; better yet we are learning how to reuse and reduce. We learned where our water comes from, that it is limited, and that conserving water is possible. We learned animal products have a large carbon footprint and that fish populations are finite, thus vegetarian and vegan diets are becoming more common.
So what now for Earth Day? One key to transforming our outlook is to walk a mile in another’s shoes. Maybe that is why Elaine has made a tomol, the seafaring vessel of local Native American Chumash tribes. Building the vessel imparts the experience of living more sustainably. Experience is more than just a memory; it influences us every day for years to come.
Americans relocate often, and a big change in location can lead to a big change in lifestyle. Esther came from a water abundant area to a water-scarce area. Lead contamination in hot tap water was a concern, and the solution was to run the tap water until it was cold. Realizing that habit resulted in a huge waste in the new water-scarce area, she made a serious commitment to reducing her use, such as showering once a week and washing clothes once a month.
Everyone can make an effort to live sustainably. Liz charges her motorized wheelchair with a portable solar panel. She thinks like an innovator and collects water in a dehumidifier to reuse in the garden and in the house.
We all have the power to inspire others. Heather makes herself heard on the Navy Base with maintenance crews to explain what native plant species are and how these plants require fewer labor hours to maintain because they are meant to grow in our area.
Earth Day is not just one day. We celebrate each year together but we live it every day in our own compelling and creative ways.