What does Earth Day mean for you?

Sabrina Almeida

Do you have any actionable activities planned for Earth Day? There’s plenty of ways to “work for Mother Earth” today and throughout the year. Local signboards offer suggestions such as cleaning up a nearby park or streets. You could even do something more personal – like planting a tree (or two) on your property.

Neighbourhood cleaning groups will undoubtedly become a common sight today and the whole weekend to mark the occasion. It’s a wonderful way to come together as a community to preserve the planet that we live on. Don’t just acknowledge them by sounding your car horn, join them if you can!

While all Earth Day activities are important and commendable, we cannot limit them to a single gesture annually. Meaningful change comes from making environmentally-sensitive efforts a way of life. There are several people in my Mississauga neighbourhood who don’t restrict their cleanup efforts to April 22. They’re out with the big black garbage bags picking litter off the streets several times in the year. The planet would benefit greatly if more of us could follow their lead.

The critical question is whether one is concerned about the environmental state of things or thinks that the climate crisis has been exaggerated? The answer will determine whether an individual will contribute to the problem or the solution.

I think we should all have climate anxiety. It’s hard to ignore the global warning signs all around – whether it is the shrinking ice caps, extreme floods, or forest fires. Growing up in Mumbai, I never experienced temperatures above 35 degrees. But the climate has changed drastically in the 20-odd years I’ve been away and 40 degree days have become fairly common. This year the heatwave came early, in March. Friends who grew up in Canada share comparable stories about rising temperatures.

While decreasing snowfall in Canada may be convenient for us from the shoveling point of view, it has proven to have had an adverse impact on the environment. Snow is easier to manage than rain which causes runoffs and flooding. But rising temperatures are causing the snow to come down as rain. The devastating 2013 Calgary floods are an example of what this can do. Several studies also suggest that climate change made the catastrophic British Columbia floods twice as likely.

But while all other doomsday predictions get our attention, gloomy forecasts about the climate and planet don’t seem to find their mark. We can’t afford to be that oblivious or ignorant because there is no Planet B! Isn’t it also selfish and irresponsible to leave future generations to clean up or bear the consequences of our mess?

The good news is that we can stop the degradation by taking action both collectively as well as individuals. It’s time to start believing that positive individual action however small will make an enormous difference when done repeatedly. The same is true of the tiny negative acts we repeat every day.

There are so many things one can do to save the planet that require minimal effort — like turning off the tap when brushing one’s teeth, not buying new clothes for a month (or two), going meatless one day a week, avoiding single-use plastics, unplugging your electronic devices to reduce electrical waste, carpooling  and recycling whatever you can including clothes and furniture.

The pandemic has taught us to focus on the more important things in life – our relationship with and responsibility to our planet is a critical part of that.

It’s become a habit to act in environmentally destructive ways. But each one of us has the power to change our behaviour. And simple actions when multiplied countless times can have positive life-altering implications for the planet. we inhabit. Let’s make a personal commitment to protect and preserve Mother Earth ‘from’ today!

We all have a choice, let’s make the right one for our future generations!



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