Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day 2008

Earth Day has developed into an international environmental awareness day since its inception on April 22, 1970. According to Wikipedia, "Earth Day was conceived by Senator Gaylord Nelson after a trip he took to Santa Barbara right after that horrific oil spill off our coast in 1969. He was so outraged by what he saw that he went back to Washington and passed a bill designating April 22 as a national day to celebrate the earth."

I believe there is more awareness of environmental issues today and in some areas progress has been made in cleaning up some parts of the world. The fact that I saw Bald Eagles several times this winter is testament to efforts of those who recognized that pesticide use was affecting the species negatively. The Great Lakes have been cleaned up considerably in my lifetime. But every day we see that more change is needed. Spring reveals a season's worth of garbage that has been abandoned along roadsides, trails and parking lots. But more telling is our attitude towards transportation, convenience and accumulation of goods.

Along this trail I found discarded water bottles, plastic snack containers, drinking boxes and garden garbage within large plastic garbage bags. There is no need to dispose of things this way as our city has garbage collection, yard waste collection and recyling available. Some people simply do not care.

We have had exceptionally warm temperatures over the past week and the airflow has been from the south. That means we have had several smog days already which is earlier in the year than ever before. A haze has been hanging over the city as pollution from Canadian and American sources moves northward. People with respiratory conditions are warned not to exert themselves outdoors. It takes me about 15 minutes to drive 14 km to work every day. A bus goes from the end of my street to the hospital in about 45 minutes. Because of the extra 6o minutes of commuting time I am not anxious to take public transit.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced today that the province will ban the cosmetic use of pesticides.

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Ontario said on Tuesday that it will ban the sale and general use of pesticides in what the province said would be among the toughest such environmental laws in North America.

Canada's most populous province said the new legislation -- expected to take effect next spring -- would outlaw homeowners' use of lawn and garden pesticides for such things as killing dandelions. Exceptions would be made for golf courses, farms and forests.

In Canada, only the province of Quebec has a similar ban, and according to the pesticide industry no U.S. state has a ban in place...

My personal Earth Day resolutions are to reduce my use of plastic bags, to naturalize our back yard (the dog has given us a head start on that!) and to add more native plantings to my garden. Over the winter months I did not use our composter and have to try harder to chop up my organic garbage and make the trip to the bin. And maybe I will take the bus to work one day a week...

Small changes do make a difference.

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food... The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Genesis 2

I posted some pictures I took this morning to celebrate Earth Day.
Follow this link.


  1. Anonymous9:19 pm GMT-4

    We need to make a difference and Happy Earth Day 2008! Thanks for doing your part in getting the word out!

  2. Ruth, perhaps the best Earth Day post I've ever read. And your photos are wonderful!!!!

    It takes little effort to makes changes in our lifestyles that will make a difference. Lets hope the careless folks catch on one day....

  3. Ruth--bravo and well said. Precisely the right kind of emphasis for Earth Day.
    I join you in resolve to reduce use of plastic. I keep thinking about the great plastic garbage float in the Pacific Ocean.

  4. I agree with you. Not enough people are doing their part. But good for you for making these Earth Day changes in your own life.

  5. Great post. Small things can make a difference when millions each do.Saw a very wealthy, well know person (in our city) kick a fast food bag from his SUV - barely opened his door, nudged it, and drove sway. I still kick myself for not calling his office, asking to speak to him and suggesting he go back to the Saf*way parking lot and pick up his trash.
    During the coldest, snowy days of winter, I put compost in kitchen bags, then in ice cream type buckets to freeze outside. Soon as snow is going, just dump in the bin.

  6. Anonymous4:18 pm GMT-4

    Have you considered vermicomposting in the winter? You can keep the bin in the house (or if the idea of worms inside is gross to you it can be kept in a warm garage.) Worms deal with organic waste incredibly fast and worm castings is excellent compost.

    This is my favorite Earth Day post I have read! You put it all so well. It takes and effort to change but I think it feels so good to know you are making a difference and occasionally inspiring others to make the change as well.

    Do you want me to send you some cloth produce bags? I make them out of muslin so that I don't have to use those flimsy plastic produce ones.

  7. Ruth, what a thoughtful post. Well written and good intentions! I, too, use cloth bags at the grogery store and have finally made it through the mountain of plastic ones I use as trash can liners.

  8. Yes, if we all do our part in keeping the Earth clean, unpoluted and use less energy we could make the world a better place.

  9. Monarch- And thanks for your ongoing inspiration!

    Mary- Thanks... I feel badly when I see adults who litter in front of their children. What a poor example that will continue to be followed.

    KGMom- Your plastic post inspired me.

    Rondi- There is a lot more I could do but convenience is so attractive.

    Jean- That is a good winter composting idea. Shame on that person who must know better!

    Jaspenelle- lol!! We have done the vermi composting (I should write a post on that experience!) We had a big bin, but we produced more kitchen waste than our worms could process. And we ended up with so many worms. Some were so large they were like little reptiles. And we had hatches of the most interesting flying insects from that bin. It was fun while it lasted.
    I have seen your super cloth bags. I have a lot but often forget to take them back out to the car.

    Kathiesbirds- I hope I can be as faithful as you are with your cloth bags.

    Birdman- We need to do our part to clean up things for your generation.


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