I don’t know about you, but I find Earth Day confusing. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the goal. We’re supposed to collectively celebrate the earth, turn out the lights and help make a global statement about reducing our negative impact on the environment. That’s not why I’m confused. I’m confused because I find Earth Day increasingly being used as an opportunity to market consumption.
I work in a sustainably minded company and my social network is well connected with people and companies trying to do better for the planet. I get the newsletters, the media posts, and, of course, the advertisements. Every year on April 22nd I wake up to a party in my phone. A decade ago, it really was a celebration. An inbox full of messages, texts and e-mails helping me to celebrate Earth Day from a group of people that were excited that the world was paying attention. Yet, over the past few years, I’ve found that the celebration has shifted. The marketing experts have taken over my phone, and now it’s all about selling me something. Granted, their trying to sell me something “green”, but the fact remains, they’re still trying to sell me something.
If you’re engaged in sustainability, the one thing you know is that excessive consumption and waste is one the biggest challenges we face if we expect to maintain a suitable quality of life on this planet. Before you get all upset with me for being too old fashioned and against progress, I am not saying that we need to go back to mud houses and hunting for food. Let’s not be silly. As we improve the standard of living around the globe, we need to find a better balance between what we want to consume and our natural resources. As a global culture we need to shift our perception of success. Stress less on quantity, and engage more in quality. Quality things, ideas, experiences, and relationships.
For this coming Earth Day (and maybe a few that will follow), let’s stop thinking about what you can buy or sell. Let’s not worry about our image and trying to impress people. Let’s instead think about what you can give. An hour of your day for a shoreline clean up, an hour of your time to work in a garden, an hour of your time to walk in a park or sit on a beach. At the end of the day, an hour in the dark to hangout with family or friends. I hope we can take a look at all we take from the Earth, and go back to our roots on Earth day and give back as much as we can.
CEO, BSIbio Packaging Solutions