Happy Earth Day, Mother

Trish Puterbaugh is a local environmental activist

How to stay positive on the 34th anniversary of Earth Day in the face of devastating, daily, dastardly environmental news? How to like being an environmentalist when we are harangued for being unpatriotic (because we believe in conservation, not consumerism) and anti-growth (all those pesky laws about clean water and air).

How do we get the politics out of caring for our planetary home and understand that it simply makes sense? Why is it that 34 years later our houses are bigger, our cars guzzle more gas, and plastic diapers and water bottles are threatening to bury the world?

Earth Day was born when a generation of youth became angry at deaths in Vietnam, at the treatment of minorities and because our waterways and air were fouled. We questioned authority and protested the status quo. We took off our clothes, jumped in the creek and discovered the beauty of nature. We committed to a cleaner world, burying a car and signing pledges to have no more than two children. The speed limit in California was lowered to 55 mph to save gas. So why are we all driving 75 now? Oil is not a renewable resource, and our highways are more dangerous than ever!

Can we make a commitment to change something today? Can we motivate ourselves to make this world safer for the next generations? I think we can, each in our own way.

Got asthma? Got allergies? What’s in your cupboards? Household cleaners, pesticides, personal-hygiene products and cosmetics that can trigger allergies and cause cancer. The natural stuff really works! Yeah, yeah, it’s more expensive, but you will save lots when you bring your own bags to the store, right? (Even if you forget them in the car half the time!)

By the way, get out of that car! How many times have you decided you were going to bike to work, the store or school? If you’ve been thinking about buying a hybrid, go for it (you don’t have to plug it in). Or trade in that gas hog; those fumes cause asthma and cancer too! Turn off those lights, screw in fluorescent bulbs, fix that leaky faucet, and reduce, reuse and recycle everything you can.

Buy that clothesline you’ve been thinking about, that tankless water heater or solar system! Consumerism isn’t all bad as long as it’s quality, not quantity! Buy organic food, plant natives, drink fair-trade coffee and vote; it really does count.

The list is endless! It’s a free country, and we are so blessed to have choices most people in the world envy. Give something back to Mother Earth this year. Live simply so that others may simply live.