This is the first year that Earth Day has been front and center. When I glanced at the advertising inserts in my Sunday paper and most touted their green products in recognition of Earth Day, I knew that eco-awareness had moved beyond those of us who might be called ‘tree-huggers.’ While I normally scorn the way advertising blitzes try to take advantage of holidays, I was heartened that large multi-national corporations have begun to take heed of their need to address this important issue.
A year ago very few people toted reusable shopping bags. Today, most stores produce their own bag – and many gave them away free this past weekend. I knew that reusable bags had come of age last winter when I spied cloth bags with Macy’s logo on each stacked on a cashier station. Many stores and communities are doing away with plastic bags or charging a fee for using them. Others are rewarding customers who bring their own bags. When I forget to take my reusable bag into a store and only buy one or two items, I am asked whether I want a bag. Of course, the answer is ‘no,’ – and I always make sure to thank them for asking.
Morning news programs have had features to help listeners ‘Go Green,’ and have included information about environmentally friendly paint that does not contain volatile organic compounds that emit fumes, green cleaning products, biodegradable peat pots for bedding plants, and wooden toys. Some have gone so far as to suggest checking to see where grocery items are manufactured and produce originates, and then recommend purchasing items that are local in origin.
Personal responsibility is certainly the first step. As consumers change their purchasing habits and demand products that don’t lead to deleterious consequences for the planet, corporations will respond. Of course, that isn’t the whole answer. Policy changes are necessary to make the big changes that will spur development of new energy sources and prevent the ‘out-sourcing’ of damaging business practices.
You have seen the television commercials for the We campaign. The We campaign is a project of the Alliance for Climate Protection, founded by former Vice President Al Gore in 2006. It suggests, “You can’t solve the climate crisis alone. But if we all work together, we can.”
United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moom, writing in Time Magazine, eloquently summed up the challenge: “The basic building block of peace and security for all peoples is economic and social security, anchored in sustainable development…it allows us to address all the great issues, poverty, climate, environment and political stability – as parts of a whole.