STEPHANIE BERCHT Staff Writer
Of all the things spring offers, I get the most excited about Earth Day. It boosts my energy like a healthy dose of a fresh, tasty açaí smoothie.
Lately, however, I feel my body is getting used to caffeine and not getting the same effect.
I enjoy strolling from booth to booth at the Earth Day festival, seeing what Savannah is offering for a healthy sustainable environment.
There is a wonderful feeling of being overwhelmed — in a good sense — by the people and projects focused on making a healthier environment. It keeps my growing cynical outlook in check and allows me to return to my original faith in humanity.
Pushing for healthier sustainable practices has become almost second nature to me, to an extent that occasionally I forget and catch myself thinking, ”Why do I insist so much on this? What was the point again?”
Before, these thoughts were only driven further away by the negligent attitude of people who overconsume, waste endlessly and don’t believe in “global warming.”
But now, little things have begun to stop me in my tracks.
For example, I met with a friend on Earth Day and she carried a green plastic bag filled with a wonderful compilation of opportunities in recycling, community gardens and furniture companies.
Already I cringed at the plastic bag. I knew what was coming. Ecstatically, she pointed at the sign on the bag, saying, “Look, it’s biodegradable! Wouldn’t it be great to get Ex Libris and Savannah to use the same material?”
My heart always gets in a tug-of-war whenever the corn-based plastics topic comes my way.
Yes, it’s wonderful – it’s wonderful to see you and others get excited about the possibilities of less harmful waste. But no, that’s not the solution.
To biodegrade that stuff, the conditions have to be perfect. They end up in a trash bag that ends up in the landfill. Nothing biodegrades in a landfill. Fifty-year-old newspapers are still readable in a landfill.
I don’t want to think that it’s all “greenwashing.” Some changes are baby steps. I understand that. But don’t even get me started on SCAD’s nifty corn-based plastic cups they use at special events.
So, naturally, I can’t help but wonder, does it still serve its purpose?
I have only partaken in Savannah’s Earth Day, so I can’t tell for sure. Initially it was a single day of the entire year designated as a teach-in on environmental awareness and a push for change.
The first one in 1970 was a series of rallies all over the nation. It led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.
Like Earth Day in Savannah, it brought together people who shared the same values. And change happened.
The amount of hard work and energy to bring together so many people for a few hours on a Saturday can’t possibly be greenwashing.
No doubt, most of it is more for self-promotion than anything else, but the fact that organizations insist on coming off as “green” only comes to show that the demand is high for this benefit. Consumers want a healthier environment and use their dollar bills as a vote.
Maybe it’s not the caffeine wearing off. Maybe it’s infatuation turning into real emotions. You don’t have to believe in “global warming” but does it hurt to keep your home a healthy place to live in?
I’m glad to know Earth Day has been annually celebrated for 39 years. The process is slow, but change starts with awareness and power is in numbers.
Illustration by Emerald Choi