When one is a gardener and landscape designer, as well as a passionate naturalist, everyday is Earth Day. However, marking the day April 22 as the official Earth Day, says as much about the collective, global observance as it does on an individual who is keen to “observe the interconnected relationships between plants, birds, trees & ecology so we can understand the past, present & future of our local and global environments,” as described in Nature Mentoring.
I have been following the Earth Day organization and its efforts from its early days; not long after they launched in 1970. At that time, the effort was an answer to what was termed a “Crisis of Survival.” Reportedly, ten percent of the US population marched to demonstrate the impact of industrial development!
I thought the effort was an, ahem, natural evolution. Meaning that once folks learned how bad pollutants and environmental destruction was, the solution would be within reach. After all, who wanted to eat contaminated food or breathe bad air or swim in fouled, poisoned waters. We were smarter and, collectively, we’d solve this crisis.
And yet, here we are, 52 years later. Do you think we are better off or has the crisis deepened?
This year, the global organizer announced that the theme for Earth Day 2022’s celebration is “Invest in Our Planet.”
But what does that mean?
I found that the good folks at PlayItGreen explained very well: “Investing in our planet means stopping reliance on old, out-of-date fossil fuel technologies and redirecting our attention to creating a 21st Century economy that repairs our planet, protects the species living on it, and provides opportunities for all.”
(The British team here even provides a business plan to help reach a climate solution, plus they are big on planting trees!)
Further, Invest in our Planet …”means reframing the conversation, accelerating action, and bringing us together to understand that this is possible and within our reach, if we work together.”
I like it.
And we’re back to that collective I noted in the beginning of the Post.
This means that all of society must play a part.
It’s more than just the Green Industry leading the way or keeping the earth “natural” on the remedial or good side and big business or government polluters who could be fined for punitive damages and embarrassed by moral outrage to remediate.
Today, I see so many industries playing a significant role in changing how they do business in order to benefit the planet, their supply chain partners, and their customers. People sincerely care about a brand’s sustainability efforts and will use their affinity for climate positive companies and products when they choose where to spend their money; thereby “investing” in their own part of the planet.
We all make choices that make a difference in our piece of the world…
Take the world of Home or Interior Design, for example.
I asked my friend, Toni Sabatino, Toni Sabatino Style, an award-winning interior designer, who also designed a signature line for Baden Haus, past president Manhattan Chapter, National Kitchen Bath Association, K+BB Editorial Advisory Board, and the Sustainable Furnishings Council, about the industry’s efforts at sustainability. I attend many of their events and have heard and seen the changes that have come about because of these professionals' commitment to sustainability. Toni noted that manufacturers are looking to use less water and less energy; of course designers are looking at cradle-to-grave products and using more recycled materials when possible. Cabinet factories are using more sustainable woods and wood-looking product to make sure that forestry is stewarded with care and the range of product still meets consumer demand.” Many of their manufacturers are committed to sourcing local elements; using locally quarried stone; 100% reusable and recyclable. In taking out old cabinets in a renovation, for instance, the designers don’t just trash the old but look to repurpose, for an environmental, budget-friendly solution.
So too, the Fashion Industry has recognized the role it plays in a sustainable planet.
The Geneva Environment Network tallies up the cost of producing clothes and the damage to the environment as well as the waste ~ folks buy so many garments and then toss them after a very short time… (When I worked in fashion, a key element of quality was how long a garment lasted. At Bergdorf’s a woman returned a sweater because it didn’t wear well/last. It was more than 10 years old. She wasn’t an outlier.
Today, the equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second;
Approximately 60% of all materials used by the fashion industry are made from plastic;
and the fashion industry is responsible for 8-10% of humanity’s carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
Yet, here also, there is a commitment to changing business practices. According to Vogue: …”designers are using deadstock, as leftover fabric is known – so much so that in April 2021, French luxury group LVMH launched Nona Source, the first online resale platform of deadstock materials, collected from the group’s houses. Now designers can purchase remnants from the ateliers of Dior, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton and others at a fraction of the original cost. Meanwhile, studio teams are sourcing hi-tech or recycled fabrics. Prada is using Econyl, a recycled nylon made from abandoned fishing nets, throughout its collections, and plans to eliminate virgin nylon from its supply chain this year. Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen has fashion recycled polyester – known as poly faille – into dresses. Emporio Armani folded recycled materials and regenerated leather fiber into its collections, and its eyewear has lenses partly made of bio-based material.
Last spring, Stella McCartney unveiled a prototype corset and trousers in Mylo, a lab-grown leather-like material made of mycelium – the root structure of mushrooms – developed by Bolt Threads in Silicon Valley. “
There is also Rent the Runway, threadUp and other services that offer gently-worn garments.
Sigh… Food and its production cuts a very wide swath and touches so many points in this arena: animals, farming, restaurant design, trucking food from its source to consumers, packaging and more. I can’t cover all this here but let’s just look at a few things.
The food industry acknowledges that 25-30% of greenhouse gas emissions come from food. If food waste were a country it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China.
Not to bite the hand that feeds us (!) but there needed to be some real change.
There has been a marked effort to embrace and serve more plant-based foods that are not so processed.
Recent studies from The Nature Conservancy point to a regenerative, nature-positive food system.
“The long-term impacts of climate change on crop production, concerns related to water scarcity and quality, and the threat of land degradation are top of mind for these business leaders—even more than the clear and present risks of pandemics and disease. As one of the sectors most reliant on nature—and demanding of its services—this recognition is encouraging and represents an opportunity for immediate progress.
spur a green recovery, with 55 percent of business leaders surveyed reporting increased levels of investment in environmental sustainability.”
I want to believe there are “Climate Innovators” in most every industry.
While surely there are those who deny that anything is amiss with regard to the climate and the earth (!) ~ I just can’t understand why these folks can’t stop spending so much time and money on naysaying and rather put their efforts into truly investing in our planet. Even the oil industry’s own reports cited the effects of climate chaos. Smart business needs facts upon which to base decisions. The viticulture industry has been planting grape vines further north for decades because it’s getting too hot in the more traditional wine-growing areas.
“Do Good” rather than “Do Harm” is a rallying cry.
I hope we can dial back the rhetoric and instead, encourage and celebrate those Climate Innovators who make a difference. Even if that difference appears to be “glacial” (no pun intended), it’s a step in the right direction.
Let’s not keep doing the same ol’ same ol’
Think big. Think opportunity. Think innovation. It’s exciting to explore new ways of creating.
Putting the Personal into the Planet or ~ You’ve Got the Whole World in Your Hands
They say “the devil is in the details.” But there is also the saying, “God is in the detail” meaning that attention paid to small things has big rewards.
It’s understandable that most of us feel rather helpless in terms of making any real impact towards making a difference in the environment. And if you’re like me, marching and demonstrating just isn’t an option. However, there are still plenty of ways you can invest in the planet.
Donating real money to causes and organizations that support nature conservation
Seed Swap ~ join a seed swap group or launch one.
Eat and Shop Local ~ You can work with local schools to expand consumption of local and regional produce and food products. I advocate for bringing back true cafeterias in schools. When I grew up, we benefited from lunch-room mothers (yes, almost all were ladies) who cooked real food and served it with a smile. You can help promote an economically-viable, environmentally-sustainable, efficient, and equitable local food system
Plant a Garden
If you don’t have a yard, work with a school garden, a community garden, or a local historical society ~ they are all usually looking for volunteers. You can also plant window boxes, use containers, pots, your kitchen countertops, and more. You can grow herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers!
Did you know that the green spaces in Community Gardens ~ “improve mental health and foster community while making space for green infrastructure like rainwater harvesting systems that prevent heavy rain from overflowing sewers and wastewater treatment plants?” So says, NYC Grows.
Gardens and plants attract birds.
Protect our Birds
You can reference the National Audubon Society’s database to learn what native plants will attract more birds to your home. Bill and I just Love watching the birds ~ it’s like theater.
Same for the Pollinators
Who doesn’t love Butterflies and Bees? Well, there’s a lot more to love. We belong to the Xerces Society. If you’re not familiar with them, you may want to look into supporting The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. It’s an international nonprofit organization that protects the natural world through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. Their key program areas are: pollinator conservation, endangered species conservation, and reducing pesticide use and impacts.
Need I say more? We need trees. Trees. Trees. Trees. Yet, all too often I see the “power” or electrical companies cutting and carving trees into ungodly shapes while removing their precious limbs or cutting them down wholesale. This is often, shockingly, done without citizens’ approval. This is wrong.
As I tell my audience who attend my garden talks, these companies need to invest in underground networks. Storms are too aggressive now to rely on the old way of providing power. Homeowners all have generators now. So we pay the utilities for a service that is in doubt when we need it most…
Plus, another little known nugget is that they are supposed to be given their ability to operate in municipalities by bidding against competitors. But most often they are just given the contract. We need to hold them responsible ~ to the citizens and to the environment. Stop cutting trees!
Earth Day Activities
EARTHDAY.ORG’s mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, EARTHDAY.ORG is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 150,000 partners in over 192 countries to drive positive action for our planet. preserve and protect our health, our families, our livelihoods… together, we must Invest In Our Planet.
The organization writes: “Because a green future is a prosperous future.
Today, Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national and local policy changes.
We need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably). It’s going to take all of us. All in. Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet.
And while there is still time to solve the climate crisis, time to choose BOTH a prosperous and sustainable future, and time to restore nature and build a healthy planet for our children and their children.”
Check out their site for lots of fun, family activities.
* And be sure to watch live on Twitter, Facebook, and EARTHDAY.ORG on April 22nd, 2022 at 14:00 CST and 8:00 AM EDT.
You can see their digital live stream event with topics that will include regenerative agriculture, the environment in time of war, business and the environment, and much more!
In addition, the World Sustainability Organization (WSO) invites everyone to become agents of change and join the sustainability movement. The organization advocates businesses to produce sustainably, consume responsibly and support conservation projects to restore our planet. Let’s celebrate Earth Day by taking action into our own hands. We love and preserve ecosystems by certifying sustainable agriculture and farming.
Friend of the Earth is an international certification program for products from sustainable agriculture and farming.
World Sustainability Organization WSO YouTube
Without a doubt, this subject is dear to my heart. And I hope it captures your heart and moves you to action, as well.