Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Relate: A Post-Earth Day Manifesto

african american mural gwendolyn brooks lawrence kansasEditor’s note: We’ve done quite a bit of republishing lately here at sustainablog.Β  I’m grateful to all of those who have agreed to let us use their content, and wanted to add one more to the mix: Simran Sethi’s “post-Earth Day manifesto” from last week’s Huffington Post.

“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” Gwendolyn Brooks

[social_buttons]Dave Lowenstein and Gwendolyn Brooks hooked me. Just over two years ago, I was contemplating my stay in Lawrence, Kansas and sorting out future plans. The circumstances that brought me there weren’t going to keep me there. All my work was in New York and Los Angeles. I had no compelling reason to stay. Then I walked by a mural.

The mural, replete with brilliant images of incredible African-American artists connected to Kansas, is the backdrop for Lawrence’s Saturday Farmers’ Market. But that particular Sunday was scorching hot and downtown was a ghost town. The one car parked in front of the colorful wall at 9th and New Hampshire featured a bumper sticker demanding a living wage for Lawrence. I got up close to the words. I took a photo of the bumper sticker. In that sticky, solitary, epiphanic moment, everything became clear. I wanted to stay in this small town in a flat state, because of our magnitude and bond.

While I’ve always been committed to social and environmental issues, I’ve gotten extra love over the last few years as everyone everywhere tries to “go green.” (Green Barbie? Really? You’re made of petroleum.) On Wednesday, I appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in honor of Earth Day. The amount of exposure given to issues that I hold dear is exciting and I am thrilled and honored to be asked back on Ms. Winfrey’s show. We have to begin with the basics and Oprah has done an incredible job of getting people started on all kinds of important journeys.

In my work as an environmental journalist, I’m delighted that people want to know what they can do to make things better. I’ve suggest reusable cotton bags in lieu of paper or plastic, explained why I prefer BPA-free stainless steel bottles over reusable plastic ones, and talked about how the mercury in CFLs create less toxic waste than the mercury generated through the use of inefficient incandescent light bulbs.

But as the Earth Day green-hype winds down, it’s also the media’s job to let you know that the planet won’t be saved in 10 Easy Steps.

Read the rest at the Huffington Post

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