April 22, 2020 marks the fiftieth celebration of Earth Day. I was there in 1970 in my bell bottom jeans walking in the march, picking up litter with my long blonde hair getting in the way as I idealistically thought we were making changes that would save the world. I have participated every Earth Day since. Picking up litter happens daily so my participation has evolved into providing various education sessions at Earth Day festivals. Today Earth Day was different. No festivals, no group walks, no children to teach.
I was still out there, my bell bottoms exchanged for “jeggings”, long blonde hair still getting in my way because I can’t remember a hair tie even after fifty years, and still picking up trash and enjoying nature. I paused to reflect on the idealistic girl so many years ago that thought things were going to change. Now here I am, physically distanced in a pandemic, climate change occurring at lightning speed, a country more divided than ever and a growing realization that all humankind is a rudderless ship. We don’t know what we are doing and we are looking for leaders that don’t exist. I allowed my grief, including sadness, rage and despair to have it’s moment then took some deep breaths. What can I control, how can I help?
I looked down at my bulging bag of trash. I can clean my neighborhood. And? I can refuse to participate in animal agriculture (big contributor to pollution, suffering and zoonotic disease) by being vegan. I can vote, educate, care for my local forest, plant native plants in my garden, promote pollinators and reduction of herbicides, teach future generations how to respect the land, protect wildlife by my donations and vote and mostly just give a damn. One woman with hair in her eyes may not be able to save the world but I can do my part. Many women (and men) together may just be able to turn this around. I guess the idealistic girl is still in there. Keep fighting and try to remember a hair tie.