Rebirth

Happy spring, all. Last week was Earth Week. Okay, technically April 22 was the official Earth Day, but in my city the celebration started that Sunday at my local zoo and continued throughout the week. My local PBS station aired a documentary on the rebirth of the Cuyahoga River.

Yes, I live in Cleveland, where apparently back in the ’60s the Cuyahoga River was so polluted that it actually caught fire. Seems to go against the laws of both physics and God for water to catch fire, but back then I guess people assumed that anything dumped in Nature would go away. The problem with such thought, however, is that ‘away’ eventually becomes ‘here’: did they seriously assume that ‘away’ was a magical place where garbage and pollutants disappear?

I was born in 1971, so messages about ecology and the environmental movement are pretty much second nature to me. Woodsy the Owl, Smokey the Bear, and the crying First Nations man were all reminders that we mustn’t pollute. I learned about nuclear power plants in the ’70s, recycling and recycled products in the ’80s and organic gardening and animal welfare in the ’90s along with the rest of my generation; still, I am saddened by people, particularly young people, who blindly believe that they can trash the Earth and whatever is in it without consequence.

Consider the increases in cancers and developmental disorders in children — I never heard of autism until a teacher discussed it briefly in junior high; now 1 out of every 150 children is diagnosed with disorders within the autism spectrum. Whether it’s because these disorders are more readily being tested for now or whether a child’s diet and environment is a contributing factor in the increase in diagnoses of childhood diseases as well as formerly adult diseases manifesting themselves in children is currently unclear. Still, it’s always a good idea to make sure that your child’s or grandchild’s personal environment is as toxin-free as possible.

I may not be able to put solar panels on my roof or install a greywater irrigation unit under my bathtub or kitchen sink, but I can grow my own vegetables using organic soil amendments (such as what my ducks and chickens leave behind after they eat, if you catch my drift) so my late stepson’s daughters can have healthy food to eat to augment the diet their mother feeds them. I may not be able to run all my errands by bicycle, but my pseudohusband has a fuel-efficient vehicle and we tend to combine errands so ‘Mr. Car’ won’t be overused for city traffic. I may not be able to buy a completely organic free-range diet, but with my vegetable garden, my chickens for eggs (and possibly meat, if push came to shove), and fruit trees and berry bushes, I can eat pretty nicely (if only for a few months in any given year). It’s almost never the big things that you try and maybe don’t complete that affect your eco-footprint on this planet, but all the seemingly little things you complete daily that impact the Earth and all within it.

If all you do is call your senators or congresspeople to urge them to pass bills that help the Earth or veto bills that harm the Earth, it is still more than what you would have done if you had done nothing. If all you can do is plant a window box full of lettuce seeds and a hanging basket with strawberry plants, you at least will have Strawberry-Lettuce salad and you know what went in it because you grew it yourself. If all you do is teach a child that throwing trash in lakes and rivers will harm the water or even kill animals that live there, you have at least planted a seed for the future. Do something to make the Earth a better place to live and you make your life here better.

Be reborn this spring; lobby for Earth Month.

V.