I am a tree-hugger. This might be partially because I grew up right outside of Berkeley, Calif., where you can literally look up and find environmentalists hugging the trunk of the giant oak standing in the way of the new building complex. Or I suppose it could stem from my own family’s love of the outdoors, our hikes through the giant redwoods, and our visits to Half-Dome. Either way, I have always been captivated by the environment.
So it should come as no surprise that Earth Day is one of my favorite days of the year. “Earth Day?,” you might ask skeptically. It might be more obscure than Halloween or St. Patty’s but there is something about a day dedicated to appreciating the Earth, a day where there is no excuse to stay inside under harsh artificial light but every excuse to take in some fresh air, reconnect with my surroundings, and attempt to understand the complexity of this Earth. This is a task that can be frustrating on a daily basis, especially when the future health of our environment is uncertain (and possibly very bleak). Yet, Earth Day festivities draw crowds eager to learn, to teach, and to act, which offers a revitalizing day of hope. There are people out there who care — who realize that there really is no separation between people and the environment, and that one shapes the other.
If we want to live in a society free of large oil spills (such as the recent spill in Mayflower, Arkansas), one with tall oaks to swing from or even something as simple as potable water, then we need to take an active interest and role in helping the environment. Simple actions like recycling, avoiding disposable water bottles, or buying fruit in season are steps in the right direction. But I think that what is most effective is a change in perspective — a conscious awareness of your own relationship with your natural environment.
So whether or not “The Lorax” is your favorite book, consider taking a moment (or two) this Earth Day to contemplate this fragile relationship. In fact, take the whole week. If you are not particularly self-motivated, or are swamped with the horrible rush to finals, no need to worry! Your friends in S.O.S. and the environmental studies department have planned a week full of fun festivities to help foster such reflection. And if the gardening, movie screening, camping, yoga, and photo exhibit aren’t enough to satisfy your thirst for Earth, or if you are just sick of campus, consider visiting the city’s celebration of our lovely Earth at Woodlawn Lake. There you can enjoy not only the park scenery, but also a 5k run, food booths, tree-planting demonstrations and more. Maybe you won’t discover your inner Erin Brockovich while “shavasana-ing” (shavasana= a relaxing yoga pose) in the grass, but at the very least you will get some Vitamin D.
Tori Carey is a senior majoring in environmental studies.