We screwed Earth Day — get over it
Another Earth Day has come and gone. In most cities, the green, biodegradable streamers have come down, and the free eco-swag already has been shoved under the bed. What now?
Terry Hart via FlickrWell, if you’ve been hanging around Grist lately, you would know that that’s the question we’ve been asking all along. What now? What happens the day after Earth Day? How do we extend our green commitment all year long?
For a few weeks now, we have been simultaneously celebrating and scrutinizing Earth Day. We launched a special series investigating the question: Does Earth Day still matter? We asked if it has become too fluffy-feel-good, too greenwashed, too fleeting to have any significant and lasting impact. We gave you daily green living tips for integrating the Earth Day message every other day of the year.
Some of you cried, “Hear, hear!” and laughed at our impishness in suggesting that we screw our Ma Earth’s day. And some of you pushed back at us, calling us “belligerent,” “eco-snobs,” and a few other not very nice things. But the point of all this was to get folks talking, to push the envelope, and shake things up. Sure, we’re all on the same side here. We wish “every day were Earth Day.” However, considering how close we are to being screwed by the climate crisis, we figured a stronger message than “Celebrate Earth Day!” was in order this year.
And look what happened. We helped coax out a real conversation about Earth Day — as it is today and not back in 1970 — in the midst of fading “going green” hype.
Lloyd Alter over at Treehugger wrote:
“And you don’t engage the public or influence politicians by crapping all over Earth Day, and not using the opportunity to deliver the message yet again, and try to pick up a few more converts to help start a real social movement behind energy/climate action.”
To which we answered that we’re not crapping all over Earth Day, but rather that “the Earth Day message, frankly, isn’t getting through enough. It’s just part of the background noise in a culture organized around one “special day” after another.”
And Anneli Rufus at Huffington Post picked up what we’re throwing down:
“Screwing Earth Day is irreverent. It’s ironic. It’s counterintuitive, which is one of the best ways to seize attention in these divisive days when we believe we’re totally on one side and the other side is frickin’ nuts but then someone who seems to be on our side (Grist) does something that seems way out there on the other side (denouncing Earth Day), which forces us to think — hard — beyond sides.”
We observed lively discussions on Twitter, Facebook, DailyKos, ReGeneration.org, and many other blogs and news sites — even Glam.com! Now if we had just said, “Yay Earth Day!” like everyone else, do you suppose half of this dialogue about the history, virtues, and shortcomings of Earth Day would have come about?
Yeah, we thought so.
Oh, and happy Earth Day.