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Make every day ‘Earth Day’

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As a resident of Norwalk and citizen of planet earth, I recall the first “Earth Day” in 1970 when I was in 7th grade. It was an exciting celebration in my hometown of Ithaca, NY, with banners and girls with flower wreaths in their hair, a whole day devoted to nature, sunshine, and peace. It was a time when our classrooms had posters that said, “War is not healthy for children and other living things” and “Give peace a chance,” and we regularly saw public service announcements on TV such as the crying Indian who sees litter on his (former) lands. It was an era when the fear and possibility of all-out nuclear war, as well as pollution and smog, roused young people to demand change, to become more in tune with nature, and to speak up for earth justice.

For all the attention the plight of the earth received back then, today our “common home”—our planet—is in worse shape than it was all those years ago, and so much for “Earth Day” being of importance. Every day is Earth Day, if you think about it. What can we do about the health of our planet and its inhabitants in the face of an ever-growing population, insatiable development, and demand for resources? See below for some recommendations.

I’m glad to be a member of the nature committee at Norwalk’s Oak Hills Park, as we try to protect and provide good stewardship of the protected nature areas we have established there. The Norwalk community has a lovely resource in the Park’s low-impact 1.5 mile woodland trail where we hosted a Winter Trail Walk this past February, and will host events such an upcoming Bird Watching Trail Walk on May 12 and our annual trail walk for National Trails Day on June 2.

The events at Oak Hills Park are free and we welcome all in our community to visit, “treading lightly upon the earth” through quiet events that respect our area’s wildlife. The health of our environment is what keeps inhabitants (us) healthy, too. As Pope Francis stated in his 2015 encyclical letter on Laudato Si: On The Care of Our Common Home, “Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another.”

What can we do in our daily lives to bring balance to our environment? Caring for creation can seem like such a huge problem. Here are a few recommendations:

  1. Water—clean water—is getting more scarce. Be careful how much water you are using and don’t waste it. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or soaping up dishes, and use only for rinsing. Washing your car and watering your lawn are big usages of this precious resource—try to cut back on watering so much. Take shorter showers.
  2. Modern lifestyle choices affect our planet’s health. Driving instead of walking, biking, or driving electric cars continues to pollute, and the refining and transport of oil comes at a high cost in terms of environmental damage. Jet travel is one of the biggest causes of air pollution, so conserve on trips that involve planes. Look into getting an electric car.
  3. Buildings and homes consume massive amounts of energy to heat and cool (not to mention all those large-screen TVs), and are the largest source of pollution. Animal agriculture is also a huge problem, using vast amounts of water and land, causing deforestation and ground water pollution, as well as methane pollution in the air. Go vegetarian and wake up to the ills of factory farming.
  4. Consumerism is a way of life that is unsustainable. The earth does not currently have enough resources for all the “stuff” we keep trying to buy and sell to each other. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” Examine our current economic system and how it impacts our planet.
  5. Let part of your yard “go native.” Stop mowing, stop watering (stop polluting and wasting resources) and allow native plants to flourish for wildlife to thrive. Suburbia is not a natural landscape and it is to your credit to let your yard become a habitat. My husband and I have what we call a “yarden,” picking and eating our own dandelions and purslane in summer salads, and making clover tea, from our own yard.
  6. Act and speak up for earth justice. Be aware of how we all contribute daily to pollution and the ways in which we indulge, wasting resources that in some areas of the world are nonexistent (clean water and air). Become aware of how our human activities impact the health of Planet Earth.

As we acknowledge “Earth Day” once again, can you find a few moments each day to be reminded to care for our common home for not only your own good, but for the good of all who live upon this earth, our ONLY home.

Audrey Cozzarin

Norwalk

 

5 comments

Rusty Guardrail April 22, 2018 at 4:51 pm

7. Vote Trump out of office. He rolled back as many environmental protections as he can, withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Accor, and appointed an EPA chief (Pruitt) who-as Oklahoma attorney general-sued the EPA 14 times on behalf of large industrial players seeking to avoid regulation.

Audrey Cozzarin April 23, 2018 at 9:31 am

Hi Rusty, You are absolutely right. Here’s an article in today’s NY Times about the state of the environment prior to the first Earth Day in 1970, which also mentions the Trump administration’s efforts to undo protections: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/21/climate/environmental-disasters-earth-day.html?emc=edit_nn_20180423&nl=morning-briefing&nlid=3170620420180423&te=1

We human beings have for thousands of years modified the earth to suit ourselves, and we’ve reached a saturation point with the paving-over and blasting and poisoning of the land, water, and air. I call this a “crime against God,” and have to hope that we can turn this ship around. Our current government is not really a government of the people at all: It is a business interest group that cares only about money, not “the people” nor the animals and plants and the rest of our common home. Congress will not lead on the care of creation. I am trying, in my own lifestyle, and in waking others to not only tread lightly but demand real care for the planet, but can’t do it alone. We need more folks to be vocal and come together as a community, as Earthlings, with reverence for our only home.

Susan April 24, 2018 at 9:19 am

What if the people who used the trails contributed to the trails with the purchase of a Trail Pass. Just like the golfers do. In this way the golf course would not have to fund the trails with golf revenue.

Paul Cantor April 24, 2018 at 10:08 pm

Oak Hills Park is a public park. Public parks are public goods that are paid for with taxes. Golf courses are not public goods. They are club goods that can and should be paid for by the golfers that use them. The Oak Hills Park Authority, an autonomous body, was set up by a special interest group of golfers on the premise that it would cover the costs of the golf course that occupies nearly all the land in the Park. The implicit understanding, in other words, was that user fees would cover the costs of the golf course. But user fees have never covered the costs of the golf course. Instead the golf course has swallowed up millions of taxpayer dollars along with toxic chemicals and thousands of gallons of water during dry spells at a time when our schools are being shortchanged and Norwalk lacks a genuine public park near the heart of a city. If you want to know what a public park looks like visit Wavenly in New Canaan. New Canaan does not have a taxpayer funded golf course, but it has a number of public parks. Norwalk should not be spending millions of dollars to subsidize every round of golf the less than ten percent of its citizens along with the citizens of New Canaan and surrounding cities play. The fact that they are doing just that is scandalous.

Yvonne Lopaur April 24, 2018 at 10:41 pm

@Susan
Unfortunately, like many golfers in your effort to equate taxpayer support for nature trails with taxpayer support for an 18-hole golf course you make two mistakes. The first mistake is to equate nature walks open to everyone as equivalent to golf rounds on fairways and greens from which everyone but golfers are excluded. The second mistake is to imply that the maintenance of nature trails is as costly as the maintenance of golf courses. The cost of maintaining nature trails is pennies when compared to the cost of maintaining the golf course both in terms of dollars and damage to the environment.

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