The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel in it the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it. (from Galadriel’s monologue in The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring)
Today, April 22nd, is Earth Day. This is a day set aside for planting trees, cleaning up parks, forests and beaches, for teaching people to plant gardens and not lawns, and for healing Mother Earth. For me, as a witch and pagan, as a gardener, and just as a human being, every day is Earth Day and I find it very sad, dare I say offensive, that there is only one day in a year dedicated to caring for, tending to, and protecting our planet, our collective home.
Earth is a living thing. Carbon, the building block of life, is found in not only humans but in animals, plants, the air, the oceans, rocks, and soil. This means that we humans and the animals are not the only things alive on Earth. That rock you toss aside, that soil you turn for planting, that ocean you dive into each Summer, that tree you are cutting down - all hold the elements of life. As Earth is made up of rock, soil and water, the argument could be made that the planet Earth itself is alive. Earth, Mother Earth, Mother to us all, home to us all. And we are killing Her.
Each year, we humans spend tons of money, and time, on protecting the inner sanctum of our homes from things like carbon monoxide, asbestos, and lead, on air filtration systems to clean the air we breathe in our houses, and on water filtration systems for our drinking and bathing water. Yet, most of us cannot stop to pick up trash on the ground when we see it, cannot stop pouring fertilizers and pesticides on our lawns and gardens, and cannot stop filling landfills with every item we wish gone from our life, only to replace it with something “new and improved”. Our oceans are filled with tons of plastic and other waste, none of it good and all of it deadly. We are killing our home. Mother Earth is fighting for Her life. We, the people, can help heal Her, not just one day a year, but every day of our entire lifetime, for generations to come.
Saving our planet begins with education. Educate yourself. Understand how all life on this planet in interconnected. Learn the facts about climate change, pollution, and the importance of maintaining local native habitats and ecosystems. Learn how to compost, how to collect rain water, and how to recycle, repurpose, and reuse items in and around your home. Understand the chemicals we use in our lives, our homes and our gardens and the damage they can cause to humans, animals and plants. Know their dangers and how to either use, store and dispose of them properly and safely, or rid your life of them completely. Take that knowledge, make changes to your daily living, and lead by example. Then educate your kids, your family, your friends, and anyone willing to listen and empower them all to do the same.
Community service should not be reserved for just Earth Day. Volunteer to help clean up local parks, forests, creek beds, or beaches regularly. In Spring, consult with your child’s school administration about planting raised garden beds as part of science classes. In Autumn, help your elderly neighbors clean up the fallen leaves. Save them for your compost pile or show your neighbors how those leaves can be used to mulch gardens. Spread the word on your block of upcoming local shredding events, hazardous waste collections, or electronics recycling programs. Offer help in getting to those events. Simply just picking up trash you see in your travels and disposing of it properly is community service. On a larger scale, join an organization that protects wildlife and volunteer for their events as often as you can. Work with your local government to begin greener practices or to restore local habitats. I could list out hundreds of ideas and suggestions but I think you get the gist of it.