Musings: Earth Day

Today’s topic is: “Earth Day. How are you celebrating today?”

Earth Day 2016

I have a special place in my heart for Earth Day. I’ve probably mentioned that I was passionate (or maybe obsessed would be a more accurate term) about recycling in college. I literally wrote the manual for residence life recycling at the University of Arizona and I even made shiny gold lapel pins to reward the residence hall coordinators who had successfully expanded their recycling efforts. Who wouldn’t want one of those for your spiffy blazer, huh?!

ResLifeRecycling Pin

Earth Day was our big promotional event each year. We’d set up a table in the middle of the Student Union’s lawn. Large foam-core presentation boards would illustrate how much paper, cardboard, and aluminum the dorms had recycled so far and I’d sit out in the sun handing out informational brochures (which were printed on recyclable paper, of course) and environmentally-themed tchotchkes like Earth-shaped stress balls.

A quick aside… Have you ever played the “Gotta Get a Tattoo” game with your friends? If you were forced to get a tattoo, right now, what would you get and where? I don’t actually have any tattoos but not because I’m opposed to them. I hear getting one hurts a ton which would certainly be a deterrent. But the real reason I’ve avoided them is because I’ve played this game several times throughout my life and my answers keep changing (which is the perfect reason not to get an unchangeable tattoo.) So during my college years, I was pretty sure that, if I had to, I would get a small (you know, classy) green recycling symbol on my right upper back/shoulder. Incidentally, that also went along with my enthusiasm for organ donation and my newfound consideration of reincarnation.

Nowadays, we do what we can to reduce waste and green up our tiny slice of the planet.

At the grocery store, in addition to carrying reusable grocery bags, I also bring mesh produce bags so we don’t have to use plastic bags when we buy a couple of apples or a head of garlic.

Last winter, when I realized how much money (and garbage) we put into using Kleenex, I took a few old cotton t-shirts and made our own set of washable hankies. Just create a square template out of cardboard (12″ will work but I recommend 18″), lay it on the diagonal on the fabric, trace the edges with a Sharpie, and cut out. No sewing necessary and they don’t even unravel when you throw them in the washer.

We compost all of our perishable scraps. Well, actually we throw them over the back fence and our free-ranging chickens or the local wildlife eat most of it. The rest eventually gets worked into the ground.

We recycle pretty much everything except Maggie’s disposable training pants, which everyone is hoping she will grow out of soon. Fingers crossed!

And finally, in keeping with the Earth Day goal to plant 7.8 billion trees worldwide in the next five years, my husband continues to add spruce trees to the property line. Last week, we replaced the eight trees that had died since last spring. (The girls, in their matching pink pants and huge bellies, are supervising the hose as it filled up the big hole. And Cambria couldn’t decide if she was hot or cold, so she went shirtless with a fleece hat and mittens.) There are now 137 healthy trees bordering the pasture on the north and west sides!


Tell me how you are celebrating in the comments.

~ Phoebe DeCook


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