Is one Earth Day a year enough?

This planet is our home - why isn't every day Earth Day?

When you stop and think of it, having one single Earth Day per year seems somehow wrong when you add the fact that we live on this beautiful planet every day, year after year.

We’ve been recognizing Earth Day for 42 years now. It comes and goes. We pause and perhaps participate in an Earth Day activity, and then most of us go back to our normal habits that ultimately lead to litter, pollution, lousy resource management and/or a hundred other things that are counter productive to maintaining a healthy planet for future generations.

I read an article last week on the CBC website that looked at some of the changes that the focus on “environmentalism” has brought about, such as the Canada Water Act in 1970 and the Department of the Environment in 1971.

Even of people’s behaviours haven’t changed (yet), their awareness has. And that’s where it begins.

The Cache Creek Beautification Society conducts annual Community Clean Ups, including one for Earth Day. We pick up litter on public property downtown, so you tend to really notice what people are throwing away. And I’m sorry to say, it’s not money.

This year I picked up the usual amount of fast food wrappings, cups, cans, an incredible amount of straws, napkins, empty motor oil containers… But what was really noticeable was what I didn’t pick up this year. I found very little in the way of cigarette packaging.

Normally the cardboard packages and the cellophane wrappings make up a quarter to one third of what we pick up. That either means the smokers aren’t tossing their litter away like they used to, or the numbers of smokers in the area has been greatly reduced.

Remember when everyone smoked? First it began with awareness. Then behaviours changed. And yes, we’re still working on awareness for 21 per cent of the population, but it takes time.

But then, the question always is, how much time do we have? And will we make it before the clock stops ticking?

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal