Inhabitat

WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR EARTH DAY 2009?

by , 04/22/09

team inhabitat, earth day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design

Happy Earth Day! (or screw earth day, depending on your point of view) This Earth Day, we’re feeling conflicted about the mixed meanings that Earth Day has for the environmental movement and environmental progress. Since Earth Day is meant to be a day about finding a global perspective on the state of our environment, we thought we’d take a poll of our contributors to see what Earth Day means to each of them. As we turn the page on the 39th annual celebration of the planet that we all call home, we asked our writers to share their plans on how they plan to spend April 22, 2009. From Australia and Sweden to San Francisco and New York City, here’s a look at what Earth Day means to different Inhabitat writers. We’d love to hear from you. How do you plan to spend YOUR Earth Day, and what does this holiday mean to you? Make sure you respond, because our favorite response wins an Inhabitat T-shirt!

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Jill Fehrenbacher, team inhabitat, earth day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green designJILL FEHRENBACHER, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, New York, NY

Earth Day always riles up mixed feelings for me every year. People look at me as an environmentalist and think that I must live for Earth Day, but the truth of the matter is that I find Earth Day more and more frustrating every year, as it just seems to be a handy marketing gimmick for non-eco-friendly companies to announce ‘green’ products and initiatives. If you only knew how many ‘Earth Day’ press releases I received this morning announcing various useless new green products and services! If people truly took our environmental situation seriously we wouldn’t need one single day per year to think about the environment. We should be thinking about our environment every day, every hour.

So Earth Day for me is like every other day this year. I will blog from home while eating vegan, organic food. I will take a walk with my baby in Seward Park (NYC’s oldest municipal playground) in the afternoon. If the weather is nice in the evening, I will meet up with some friends to walk around NoLita and go to an eco-fashion sample sale, then perhaps an organic, vegan dinner at a local restaurant. And the next day, I will get up and do pretty much the same thing.

Here at Inhabitat, every day is earth day – and we hope we’ll inspire you to feel the same way.
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team inhabitat, earth day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, mike chinoMIKE CHINO, Managing Editor, San Francisco, CA

For me, Earth Day is not so much a day that warrants specific actions as it is a call to reflect upon the past year, strengthen our present resolve, and cast projections and resolutions that stand to shape the future. In the same way that New Year’s Day marks a time for personal reflection and renewal, the annual revolution of our earth towards April 22nd offers a chance to take stock of where our world stands and where it is going. Over the past year of tracking developments in green design I’ve come to a striking realization: although the earth’s problems are dire, we have the tools to make positive changes right now, and they’re getting better every day. So long as we keep the conversation going, inspire each other to action, and share in the exuberance of a brighter tomorrow we’ll give the green future a chance to grow. In the meanwhile, I’ll continue to recycle, ride my bike, support local food, and spread the world about the greatest green developments around.
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team inhabitat, earth day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, Jessica MishnerJESSICA MISHNER, Senior Editor, New York, NY

For anyone who tries to live a sustainable life everyday, the idea of Earth Day can be more than a little frustrating. But, I’ve come to really appreciate this day of celebration, much in the same way religious groups celebrate their holidays and individual mark each birthday. Earth Day is truly a special occasion and one worth commemorating. On April 22, 1970, people across the country decided they had had enough, that TODAY was the day they were going to change the world. Has it happened? Not fully. Do I feel better knowing that for one day each year, everyone is forced to reflect on the way they live and treat the planet? Sure. Do I know that by incorporating Earth Day into our collective holiday vocabulary, we can, in fact, bring about real, lasting change that might just save this planet from ruin? You bet your ass I do.

I do live mindfully each and every day. I think about the provenance of the food I buy and how much waste I generate on a daily basis. In fact, I obsess about it. But I also recognize that any daily task, no matter how noble, becomes a habit over time and is easy to do robotically, without reflection. That’s why, on Earth Day, I consciously consider all of my actions and think about WHY I do the things I do—the good and the bad. I think about big picture issues, like water scarcity and overpopulation, as well as more immediate eco concerns, like reducing my paper use and figuring out how to fly less. I don’t pretend it’s easy to live like it’s Earth Day everyday, but I do believe it’s enlightening, which is why I make an effort to both walk the walk and remain conscious of my feet moving. Until living naturally feels, well, natural, Earth Day is a necessary reminder of our shared responsibility to celebrate and protect this planet we call home.
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team inhabitat, earth day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, Beth SheaBETH SHEA, Managing Editor of Inhabitots, Portland, Oregon

I think it’s wonderful that we celebrate Earth Day on an annual basis, but I think it’s more vital to think of everyday as Earth Day. We no longer have the luxury of Earth Day amounting to 24 hours of reflection and honor. We need to observe the notion of preserving the earth every single day we’re alive. We take such pride in and care of our individual homes, but we need to focus that same attention on our planet as the collective home of humanity and all creatures. We should be taking measures every day to clean-up and maintain the earth. Proactively teaching our children by practicing what we preach, we can never lose hope that we may improve the current state of the world… through measures great and small.
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team inhabitat, earth day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, Abigail DoanABIGAIL DOAN, Senior Editor, Inhabitat and Inhabitots, New York, NY

Earth Day this year comes at a time when my household is literally buzzing with activity. The twins are now walking and every day is an adventure – full of exploration. As a mother of twins I am always looking for ways to reduce our family footprint, as we aim to be increasingly aware of and resourceful about what enters and leaves our home. I will begin Earth Day by trying to steal some quiet time in the morning to work on an organic fiber installation project that involves freeform crochet and knotting techniques as means to diagram interconnectivity in the world that we inhabit. Once the babies are awake, I will take them out for a morning run and breakfast picnic near Turtle Pond in Central Park. Later that day we hope to attend some great Earth Day eco art and design-focused events here in NYC. Sustainable NYC has partnered with Solar One to created a solar powered window installation that I really want to see. While downtown we will also swing by the New York Foundation for the Arts opening in Brooklyn’s restored waterfront neighborhood, DUMBO. I also want to try to take a peak at Anthropologie’s window displays that currently feature the life cycle and plight of honey bees. Just like any other day, we will most likely wrap up by cooking a hearty locally-sourced meal with organic wine for the parents, and organic juice for the babies.

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team inhabitat, earth day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, Olivia ChenOLIVIA CHEN, New York Editor

If anything, I think I would call myself an accidental environmentalist. Being a proponet of improving all aspects of ordinary living for city folk through design, it always just seemed to make more sense to support environmentally responsible building. Besides, I am and always have been a self-proclaimed tree hugger. Which is why I work at a non-profit that restores and creates green space in New York City, so I’ll be spending my Earth Day in an office being on the think-tank end of green space coordination. I like to think that by integrating greenery right into the urban fabric, we don’t have to rely on individual behavior — not to say that we shouldn’t change our daily habits! In that spirit, I will be taking the advice of senior writer, Bridgette Steffen, to make a new green resolution today — drinking my daily coffee out of a mug, and not a paper cup!
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team inhabitat, earth day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, jorge chapaJORGE CHAPA, Down Under Editor, Brisbane, Australia

For this year’s Earth Day, I will be doing what I do every weekday. I will get up, grab my bike, get to the office, take a shower (timed), work as usual in my day job, have a nice salad for lunch, take a long leisurely bike ride back home accross the sydney harbour. Why not do something special? Why should we! Earth Day was created to “raise awareness, responsibility and action towards a clean, healthy future for all living things” do you really need a special day to remind you of that?

The point of Earth Day was to make you aware of your footprint. If you aren’t aware by now of what it is, what are you waiting for? Take this Earth Day to find out. Keep a log of all your regular activities, find out where and what are you wasting, and see how you can improve for next year. And if you have already done this, well then do it again, you may be surprised to find out that you can improve your life just a little bit more. And more importantly, get a friend to do it too.
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team inhabitat, earth day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, bridgette steffenBRIDGETTE STEFFEN, Senior Writer, Park City, Utah

I’m not trying to be all high and mighty – sometimes I don’t recycle because I’m lazy and I still use new plastic produce bags at the grocery store. I try to reuse them, but every time I need one they seem to be in one of my other reusable bags. My biggest impact is by far my 4WD vehicle – I won’t make excuses for it, but do know that it is regularly put into 4WD out of necessity and not just for fun. I don’t worry about the baby seals or the polar bears, but I do really care about the air and water quality where I live here in Park City. Not to mention I am deeply concerned about the fate of our snow pack in future years as the our local economy almost wholly depends on a good snow season.

I would definitely call myself an environmentalist – I infuse environmentally friendly choices into my life every day. Sure I work in the industry, so I’m constantly around, but my fiance, who doesn’t, has the same commitment. But we don’t really celebrate Earth Day. To me, celebrating the Earth on one day seems hypocritical, because you can’t make up for all of your negative impacts in one day of environmental goodness – it’s not like confession. Don’t get me wrong, over the last 40 years, Earth Day has definitely helped bring awareness to environmental issues, but I feel like we need to move past the token tree planting, trash pick-ups, and blackout hours.
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team inhabitat, earth day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, Yuka YonedaYUKA YONEDA, Fashion Editor, New York, NY

We all know that Earth Day is to environmentalism what Valentine’s Day is to love. In other words, one day of chocolates and roses isn’t gonna make up for years of cheating – and neither will planting a tree. So, while I want to be able to say that I will ignore this holiday completely and just focus on living each day as eco-sensibly as I can, there is a part of me that feels like Earth Day just isn’t getting a fair shot. Maybe Earth Day is more like a birthday or Thanksgiving than the more commercial holidays it is often compared to. It is a day to remind ourselves of the small gifts that the earth presents to us each day. Instead of just commenting that it is sunny or rainy, I hope to marvel at the fact that these occurences even happen. That trees and animals and human beings even exist and how awful it would feel to let any of those things slip away just because we take them for granted. Then, after reflecting quite seriously on the steps that I can continue to take each day to preserve the things I love about our planet, I plan to party (responsibly) at Project Earth Day. Hey, it wouldn’t be a birthday without a party!
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piper08.jpgPIPER KUJAC, Contributing Writer, San Francisco, CA

This time last year, I took a good look at my own lifestyle and made a few changes. I stopped driving my car for 8 months (partly because my old Saab needed a new part of comparable $ value to the car itself), and meanwhile discovered that I do not need or miss my car at all! During this time I mysteriously dropped a pants size. Then I got our landlord to adopt ‘the green bin’ in our building. This particular landlord agreed as long as no cost was involved, so grudgingly, each of us tenants in the building now drags the damn green bin out to the street for weekly pick-ups, thus avoiding the ‘key fee’ for a garbage collector to enter the building. I was at first perturbed that composting has actually made a place in my google calendar, but I also have to admit a funny thing that happened within our building. We started to talk to one another. Our own waste actually brought us together as we became aware of how each of us manages the ‘garbage’ of our daily lives- recycling, compost, and the inevitable ‘black bin’ items, and I got to know the kind individuals who are my neighbors. (Maybe this year I’ll talk to them about things other than garbage). Then I did another thing that took even less effort. I put a small note on our front door that reads “Paper = Trees. No Solicitors Please!” and voila, we no longer have countless ads and food delivery menus that used to litter the front stoop. Every day in my professional life, I put a lot of effort into green building tactics, through my work with the USGBC NCC Residential Green Building Committee, the classes I teach at UC Berkeley Sustainable Design Program, and my own design projects.. but what I suggest to anyone reading is- take a good look at your own carbon footprint, waste produced, and daily habits and impacts on the environment. Then see what changes you can make. And- find people who inspire you and carbon copy what they do.. or at least the next best thing! For me, it’s Dr. Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. This Earth Day she will be honored by Shaklee Corporation for her extraordinary efforts for the environment, democracy, and peace. Since I’m still working on my plan for world peace, and planting a tree in an urban environment can also prove challenging, my local imitation attempts have led me to Friends of the Urban Forest, where I can plant a tree close to home. I encourage you to do the same! If you are rural, you know what to do, and if you are urban, go find an organization, such as Arbor Day Foundation, and plant a tree everybody!

It’s a great thing to do with kids, and I can’t tell you how cool it is (or how old I feel) when I visit the now mature apple trees my family planted as seedlings when I was a small child.
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team inhabitat, earth day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, alexandra kainALEXANDRA KAIN, Contributing Writer At Large

I’ve spent the last many years floating from metropolis to metropolis sitting on my laptop in different little apartments. And for the last year as an Inhabitat contributor, I’ve been researching and writing about the environmental impacts of our everyday choices. The months surrounding my move from Los Angeles to Saint Petersburg, were particularly draining and smoggy. The former, a sprawling hot mess and the latter, a crumbling Dostoevsky novel covered in black sludge. They both, of course, have their merits but I was more than ready for some time on my own Walden Pond getting to actually see the things I hope to preserve. So I decided to try WWOOF, a global network connecting organic farmers and willing workers.

This Earth Day I’m on a small farm in central Sweden, where long harsh winters make the coming of spring an amazing event About two weeks ago the snow melted away and the ground began to thaw. Since then I’ve seen little purple flowers sprout up everywhere, which I’m told are a protected plant species here. Animals are helping themselves to the compost pile at night, the sheep next door are nearly ready to give birth, the moose are hollering at each other in the woods, and deer have broken into the greenhouse to eat the tulips.

For the day I’ll probably be doing any number of tasks, from planting tomato seedlings, to rock dusting the flower beds to turning the compost heap. I’ll start the evening by making a a fresh, ‘ekologist’ meal for a growing family of nine. Cooking for two vegans, one vegetarian, three pescatarians, and three organic-only meat eaters always makes dinner time an exciting challenge. After dinner we’ll watch the sunset over the lake and probably pop open a bottle of wine.
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evelyn_copy.jpgARIEL SCHWARTZ, Contributing Writer, San Francisco, CA

I won’t be doing anything out of the ordinary on Earth Day. For me, that means I’ll wake up around 8:30 and walk over to a local coffee shop to write blog posts about anything and everything related to sustainability. During the early evening, I’ll go for a short walk to Dolores Park and eat dinner outside. During this weekend (April 17-19), though, I plan to volunteer my time with the Green Apple Festival to help clean up San Francisco. Afterwards, you can find me rocking out at Bassnectar’s thank you concert for volunteers. Hope to see you there!
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team inhabitat, earth day 2009, sustainable lifestyle, green movement, sustainable design, green design, trey farmerTREY FARMER, Contributing Writer, Berkeley, CA

Earth Day is to me, spending a day with the earth and really contemplating what goes on outside of my house and personal bubble. I plan on getting up early to spend some time with my chickens and sitting in the garden listening to the birds in Wildcat Canyon go about their morning loudly and playfully. Then I will be biking to work to spend a good part of the day in CAD space before heading into Oakland for the Planetshifter.com launch party with it’s music and sustainable munchies. Earth Day represents a lot of mixed feelings about marketing and consumerism, but I think that as longs as we all take a minute to realize how small and connected the whole earth organism is, and try and do a tiny bit to respect and help in some way, then Earth Day is a success.
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Top Photo: Earth from Above/Yann Arthus-Bertrand

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3 Comments

  1. masmax January 1, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Try Black Google Pixeleco to save energy!
    http://www.pixeleco.com

  2. debontherocks April 22, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    It’s fantastic that Earth Day is all the rage now, even if some people are not deeply integrating eco-awareness in their lives every day (yet.) Awareness is there, and more importantly, newcomers have to turn to people like us and say “Hey, maybe you’ve been on to something with this Earth stuff!”

  3. crazyfoxcu31 April 22, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    It is small minded to think of Earth Day as a one day event meant to absolve us of our eco-sins, Earth Day is about education. I’ve never been to an Earth day event that said, “hey all you have to do is just be eco-friendly today” It is a day where people can learn what they need to do to be more eco-friendly. Earth Day is for people who know about “green” living to teach others. So rather than introspectively living like some ecological monk all day why not teach your neighbor how to recycle.

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