It’s that time again… Earth Day is that day set aside each year to reflect upon God’s beautiful creation and how we can be better stewards of it.
Earth Day was introduced to the U.S. in 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. It followed a large oil spill in 1969 and national concerns about air pollution. Per earthday.org, timing of the day was reportedly chosen specifically to be be a weekday between spring break and final exams. Why? The founder and associates wanted to encourage student activism. Denis Hayes, an activist, was actually recruited to facilitate campus “teach-ins.” The Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) was created within months of the first Earth Day. The yearly observation went global in 1990.
Although the national focus of Earth Day through the years has been influenced by by political agendas and environmental events, the core value has remained. It is important to respect nature and not abuse or unnecessarily damage God’s creation. Another word for this is stewardship.
Earth Day may mean different things to different people. It reminds me of my dad, one of the inspirations for this blog. Sadly, he is no longer with us, but he lived his life with a great love for nature. Dad was not only the principal at my grade school but a science teacher as well. (Yes, it could be awkward at times to have your parent as your teacher…) I remember riding down to Carbondale from Salem with my family in our little Pacer for science fairs at SIU. My dad loved to support his students and visit his alma mater.
On family trips to the Carbondale area, it was not uncommon for us to walk through Thompson Woods on campus or to visit Giant City State Park. He would tell us that the park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. No trip to campus was complete without driving by the university farms where he worked in college.
This is also the time of year that my family would go mushroom hunting in local woods for morels. My parents taught my brother and I to enjoy and respect nature.
Words that many of us associate with Earth Day are to “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” Upcycling and repurposing have become the trendier ways of expressing this. My mom, another inspiration for this blog, was very creative. She made many things that decorated our home by repurposing. There was a large picture that hung in my brother’s room of a turtle. It was a seed mosaic that my mom made. Instead of just getting new furniture to redecorate, she would repaint and embellish things to change their look.
As an adult, I can see their influence in some of the things I do now. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with ways to use 2 liter bottles, cans, and more. I also have the same love of plants and gardening as my parents. There are many times I wish I could still get their advise. I’ve become fascinated by repurposed items that become planters or gardens…I hope that I’ve instilled some of these values in my children who are now adults.
Let’s be real honest for a moment too. Life is expensive. Reusing and repurposing items when possible not only reduces unnecessary waste–it can save you money. That seems like a win-win situation.