Happy Earth Day! This is a day of recognition and a day to celebrate our beautiful home and habitat.
But as I always say, Earth Day should be every day.
This year, 2023, feels heavier, though. There’s so much going on and so much division that climate change and environmental issues often feel like back-burner issues.
It’s hard to think about buying plastic-free items and aiming for zero-waste when the price of groceries is so high.
While the average price of groceries rose 11.4% in the last year, it is expected to rise another 8.6% this year. But for some items, staples such as bread, eggs, milk, butter, and flour – the inflation rates are even higher. “The average price of white bread was about 22 percent higher in January than it was two years ago, and flour is up almost 21 percent. Butter cost 31 percent more.”1 Milk went up about 15% between 2021 and 2022.2 “The average price for all types of eggs ballooned 60% in 2022” because of an outbreak of bird flu.3
But some of the other costs have been simply to increase the wealth of corporations, CEOs, and shareholders. They are seeing record profits and receiving record dividends and bonuses. All at our expense. According to Oxfam, a global organization that fights inequality to end poverty and injustice, 62 new billionaires were created during the pandemic. They have exacerbated problems like labor shortages and supply chain disruptions to justify inflation. But the majority of food companies still managed to see record profits.4
In the last 5 years, costs have increased overall by about twenty percent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics Consumer Price Index inflation calculator indicates that $100.00 in February 2018 has the same buying power of just over $120.00 in February 2023.5 Inflation has increased an average of 20% over the last 5 years. Most of us have not seen an increase in wages or benefits.
It’s difficult to see the value in cleaning up trash in one community when you see environmental racism and injustice in another.
My family participated in a Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful trash clean-up event in April 2023. It felt really good to go out and do something good. But all around our own city and in countries across the globe, there are people living amongst massive amounts of trash, toxic waste sites, and pollution. Why aren’t we doing more to help?
I remind myself that many of us are trying. Unfortunately, the people with the most wealth are often the same people exploiting those that have the least. And climate change affects some of the poorest communities in the world even though they have the smallest carbon footprint.
We just have to keep getting out there and doing what we can. Keep trying, learning, and especially voting!
It’s easy to shift your focus away from climate change when you are worried about the safety of your child at school.
I really don’t like to write about political issues on my website (other than things related to the environment and climate change, but those really shouldn’t be political issues, anyway). But this is a real fear for many parents, myself included. Firearms are the leading cause of death for children in the U.S.
The March 2023 Nashville school shooting, tragic and sad, should never have happened. The same week as that shooting, my son’s school in Chattanooga was put on a “secure hold” because of an intruder. The school seemed to have handled it swiftly and correctly, but they didn’t notify the parents until after the whole incident was over. The intruder was unarmed, but I nevertheless cried out of fear. I remain fearful every day I bring him to school. This daily anxiety is taking its toll.
How am I supposed to worry about climate change right now, when I’m worried about my child surviving the day?
The answer is that I have to at least try.
“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is now.” -Proverb
We all have to try.
We can do better.
“I don’t think we want to just scrape by as a species, surviving with a degraded natural world, suffering ecosystem and societal collapse, and mass human suffering on a scale that dwarfs anything we’ve experienced as a species. I think we all want to see what we’re capable of, and make this world of ours the best it can be.” -Rob Stewart6
We must keep learning.
“When you know better, you do better.” -Maya Angelou
We have to do the right things, even when our leaders don’t.
“Choose what is right, not what is easy.” -Yoda
We have to give what we can, whether that’s time, energy, or money.
“The surest path to contentment is generosity. Giving forces us to recognize all we possess and all we have to offer. It allows us to find fulfillment and purpose in helping others.” -Joshua Becker, becomingminimalist.com
We must teach our children to do better than we have.
“I’m still convinced it’s a good old world, really, but I do think we have screwed it up. It’s highly obvious with the ocean filling with plastic; it didn’t get there by itself. Thinking that climate change is a hoax is another screw-up, one that I hope we can still fix for our children and our children’s children.” -Paul McCartney
We need to value the people and the environment around us. Let’s help each other.
“Fighting for something other than your own wealth, working for someone else’s happiness, saving species, pulling people out of poverty, conserving instead of wasting – this is what really matters.” -Rob Stewart8
I leave you with a heavy heart this Earth Day. But I think the best thing we can do to celebrate today is to get outdoors and be in nature. Spend time taking in the elements and the beauty of nature. Hug a tree. Hug the person next to you. Spread kindness and love.
“Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” -Albert Einstein
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