Earth Day 2010

Earth Day 2010 is coming soon. It’s a great chance to reflect on the environmental movement and the discourse and social action that has evolved over the 40 years since the first Earth Day in 1970. When I was in high school discussions about the environment focused on the hole in the ozone (so everyone started to shelf aerosol spraycans). There was awareness about deforestation, so we were told to plant a tree (how does the average urban kid carry out that plan?). And our contribution on Earth Day was to pick up litter in a park. Hmm. Looking now at the activities of schools across North America, it is obvious that this generation is being instilled with a deeper, more meaningful and proactive understanding of what caring for the earth means. Kids help carry out waste audits in their schools, run the recycling programs, care for their rooftop gardens, design energy-efficient buildings, urge administrators to buy eco-friendly school and cleaning products (like, ahem, the AusPen), etc. Schools themselves are modelling stewardship by earning environmental grants and honorary awards for their gold, silver or bronze levels of environmentalism. A network of Green Charter Schools has sprung up in the U.S., with school names like, The Growing Up Green School, The Urban Assembly School for Green Careers, and simply, The Green School. Clearly the environmental cause dates back before 1970, but what's interesting to reflect on is the shift over the 40 years from the treatment of the environment as a topic of study to that of an attitude permeating lifestyle choices and civic involvement. We're looking forward to celebrating Earth Day 2010 and seeing continued progression in the years ahead.

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