Roll up your sleeves and dig the Earth every day

What if every day was Earth Day?

April 22 was Earth Day, but if you missed getting in on the celebrations, the good news is that you can still partake. There are so many positive things that we can do for ourselves and the planet on Earth Day, one wonders why we don’t make it a year-round event, or weekly, or monthly.

My neighbours’ son, Mack, said he had three things he wanted to do on Earth Day this year: 1) Go for a walk and pick up garbage. 2) Do an Earth Day craft. 3) Hug a tree. These are all excellent ideas, as it shows a balance for getting outdoors for some fresh air, cleaning up, honouring the arts, and commemorating our trees and planet. This is the wisdom of a pretty cool five-year-old.

Typically, I do a park or roadside cleanup with my kids. This year, we tackled James Lyons Park, and the roadside from our house to the main street. The majority of litter was fast food containers, cigarette butts, plastic water bottles, plastic bags, coffee cups, alcohol cans, and this year’s newest addition, a few of the blue disposable face masks. It was a sad reality, picking up disposable face masks, in a park, that Premier Doug Ford had closed, and then reopened the week before.

I understand how teens (probably) don’t want to bring home empty alcohol containers, but there is a garbage container at the park, albeit off to the side. If you can jump and play in the park, you can walk to the garbage to toss your treat wrappers. I’m all for enjoying a snack and a drink at the park, but pack out what you pack in. I’m going to repeat this a bit louder for those in the back: pack out what you pack in.

Second on Mack’s list was a craft. It’s been a lot of years since I did an Earth Day craft. This column will have to suffice as my “craft” this year, but I’m going to think more on it for next year. One thing I do know is that our environment is going to need creative solutions, so maybe we should all get out our environmentally-friendly glitter.

Mack’s third item was to hug a tree. Whether you believe in grounding or forest-bathing, there is something to be said for touching a tree’s bark. Whether you feel up the smooth, starchy-finished birch, or the rough bully bark on a mature oak, the simple touch or hug connects us to the whole tree. It helps remind us that we share life sources like water and sunshine, and can’t live without trees (or the pollinators that give us trees).

Jumping off Mack’s 2021 list, in the past I have also celebrated earth day with a meatless day, planting a tree, changing to environmentally-friendly products, planting wildflower seeds to help the bees, recycling, reusing, and donating items we don’t want, and/or reducing our use of water. I involved my kids in all of these activities.

Earth Day is a great day to slow down and reflect on the beauty of nature and to commit to trying to leave it better than we found it for the Macks of the world. It’s also good for us personally to participate in Earth Day. Luckily, every day can be Earth Day.

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