Can we stop pretending?

Alexandra Chertok, Staff Writer

We’re all in denial.

We pollute with our cars, waste water with our showers and add to landfills with our plastic. So why do we post pretty pictures of beautiful landscapes from vacations for Earth Day while empty soda cans litter the roadsides of our own town?

Don’t get me wrong, the concept of Earth Day is great. It reminds us to be conscious of our impact on the environment and of actions we can take to make a difference. But it seems that we care more about appearing to help environment than actually doing so.

Earth Day has become about us and not about Earth.

We celebrate Earth Day the same way we celebrate birthdays. On Earth Day, those of us who claim to care about the environment give the Earth one special day — we make sure not to litter, turn the lights off early and maybe even plant a tree. And the next day? We’re back to leaving the tap running and leaving the lights on.

We don’t pay enough attention to the state of our environment the other 364 days of the year because we don’t directly experience what is happening. Glaciers in the Arctic are melting, sea levels are rising and forests are shrinking on our planet, but none of these problems are prioritized when we’re too busy stressing over the daily details of our lives.

However, being more environmentally conscious doesn’t need to dictate our entire lives. Minimizing our impact on the planet must be something we incorporate in our daily routine the same way we brush our teeth twice a day and charge our phones.

It’s great to be a part of the neighborhood cleanup on April 22, but if we use reusable shopping bags and consume less packaging every day of the year, we won’t have to pick up trash from places it shouldn’t be in the first place. Turning off the lights, taking shorter showers and recycling every day will bring us a little closer to making a real impact on our planet.

It’s not realistic for everyone to become a vegan minimalist living a Zero Waste lifestyle in an off-the-grid tiny house in the middle of a forest, but we are definitely not doing enough. Can we please stop becoming environmentalists for a single day and then forgetting that climate change is an issue?

Earth Day should not be just one optional day of festivities. We need to start pitching in every day if we want to continue to have an Earth for us to celebrate.