[ENVIRONMENT] Earth Day Means What?

By: Deonna Marshall, Clinic Director
St. Hope Foundation, Houston, Texas

Earth Day Means What? I’m sure I would have asked this question in disbelief if someone told me at an early age that “Earth Day” was about environmental protection. As a young child my definition of Earth Day was far from “protecting the environment”.

For many years, my father would take my siblings and I to the Earth Day Celebration in downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I thought we went because it was Earth’s Birthday…crazy right? But no, really, at that time I thought it was the day Earth was born. It was a day of celebration so it made perfect sense to me. I can remember all the friendly people we meet, the great tasting food we ate that never disappointed, and the great bands whose melodies filled the air as we dance and sung along to the zydeco, jazz, and blues music. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my all-time favorite, the hands-on activities. I can recall doing activities such as creating examples of the Louisiana wetlands and using scraps to make art.

After many years of attending “Earth Day” I began to understand that the day was less about celebration and more about participation in making an impacting on our environment by taking responsibility through our actions to keep it safe.

As a result, I garnered a greater appreciation of my father for exposing me to things such as “Earth Day” even though I didn’t understand what it was or its purpose as a young child. Nonetheless, in my adulthood, I am proud to say that I have a full understanding of what “Earth Day” means. I gave up on the idea of it being Earth’s Birthday about a year ago…just kidding!

When I gained this sense of awareness about the meaning of Earth Day all the dots connected. I realized that the purpose of all those festivities were intended to provide me with understanding, motivation, and education to promote good habits within my life and in the lives of others to make Earth a good place to live.

Ah hah! So, for instance, when my dad would fuss at me to turn the lights off in my room when I wasn’t using them, it had absolutely nothing to do with running up his light bill. Well, I’m sure this was a part of the reason why he would gripe, but I also know he wanted me to understand the importance of conserving energy and not being wasteful because of the implications its had on the environment. Oh, and I cant forget when he would tell me “No” when I would ask him to drive me to a friend’s house. I’m positive it has nothing to do with the fact that driving across town used a lot of his gas. Ok, that did influence his decision, but I also know that the fumes that was released into the air everytime he turned on his car engine impacted the air quality you and I inhale everyday. So, I think you get my drift!

We all don’t have to be big environmentalist to protect our environment. It can be something as simple as recycling our soda cans, limit driving our cars, or using eco-friendly light bulbs. We all can make a commitment to do or change something in our lives to make the world a better place. Besides, it’s the small actions that truly make the big differences.