Inhabitat

WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON EARTH DAY?

by , 04/22/08

Inhabitat, Earth Day, Jill Fehrenbacher, Emily Pilloton, Jorge Chapa, Tylene Levesque, Mike Chino, Haily Zaki, Abigail Doan, Mahesh Basantani, Ali Kriscenski, earthday2008.jpg

Happy Earth Day! This Earth Day, we find our Inhabitat team has grown to span nearly every corner of the globe. Since Earth Day is supposed to be 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. These unique perspectives are a driving force behind this blog and a welcome presence in our shared outlook of environmental stewardship. As we turn the page on the 38th 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, 2008. From Hong Kong, India, Australia, Uganda, Germany, the U.S. and more, here’s a look at what Earth Day means to different Inhabitants. We’d love to hear from you. How do you plan to spend YOUR Earth Day, and what does this holiday mean to you?

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Jill Fehrenbacher, Green Design, Green Designer, Eco Designer, Green Design Blogger, Green ArchitectJILL FEHRENBACHER, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, New York, NY

Earth Day is one holiday that I have conflicted feelings about. As a green blogger, you might think that I live for Earth Day, but this isn’t really the case. On one hand, I’m happy to see so many people paying attention to environmental issues, and having one specific day dedicated ‘to the Earth’ on April 22nd certainly helps to coalesce and focus people’s thoughts on this very important issue. Television networks, radio and magazines all concentrate their green content around Earth Day, and its great to see the extra media attention on environmental issues during this time of year. But the flip side to defining one set ‘Earth Day’ every year is that, by default, it explicitly makes every other day of the year NOT Earth Day. It provides people a token day every year, on which they can recycle, eat vegetarian food, phone their Senator about climate change, and then fall asleep and go back to their regular routines on April 23rd. Like Valentines Day and every other Hallmark-approved holiday, Earth Day sets up the temptation for a lot of meaningless symbols, corporate rhetoric and empty gestures, such as NYC MTA’s new ‘green’ Metro cards for Earth Day (there is nothing remotely environmental about these plastic cards – they are just printed in green ink). And don’t even get me started on the all the greenwash advertising campaigns that we always get hit with during the month of April: ‘green’ credit cards, ‘green’ SUVs, ‘green’ bottled water…

Everyone on this planet is currently facing serious environmental devastation that no documentary, no T-shirt, no green MTA card is going to solve. Our current climate crisis is so massive that only a sustained, long-term, united effort of people around the world will ever offer any hope of ever steering us off of the dangerous trajectory that our civilization is currently on. This is why we need an ‘Earth Year’, ‘Earth Decade’ or perhaps even an ‘Earth Century’. On that uplifting note, I am happy to report that today I will be engaged in my regular weekday routine of jogging, blogging and walking around Manhattan, dreaming up ways to improve the world, one design at a time. I would like to entreat everyone who is celebrating Earth Day today to please try to keep the environment in your consciousness, and view every day as Earth Day from here on out. Viva la Earth Century!

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Emily Photo 2, Emily Pilloton, sustainable designer, Human Nest, Inhabitat writer, Project H Design, humanitarian design, design like you give a damn, project hEMILY PILLOTON, Senior Editor, Uganda
People hear Earth Day is coming up, and their first association is “lets save the planet.” Yes, Earth Day is about planting trees and going green, but really, I think it’s a day to step back for a second and realize that the Earth is one unit that we all share- a common factor that each of us has a responsibility to contribute to. Sure, it’s about the trees, the environment, and endangered species. But it’s also about humanity – the people who LIVE on this earth. We can’t afford to NOT have a “one world” attitude these days – one that disregards borders and divisions, and instead joins hands and realizes the only way we’ll redesign our world is collectively, with actions carried out individually. Let’s make this Earth Day about that- about individual action, together, with heart.

To do my part, I’ll be at the Kutamba AIDS orphans school in Southern Uganda, teaching fractions to 3rd graders who barely speak English. It’s part of a case study for my organization, Project H design, which will use the Kutamba school as the context to which our summer studio at the California College of Arts will design educational teaching tools for global applications. Teaching 11 year olds who speak Rukiga what a “denominator” is might be a small piece of the puzzle, but I like to think it’s an important step in creating a bigger impact. And that’s what Earth Day is about- individual action for collective impact. We really do live in a beautiful world- let’s do it justice and celebrate today.

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Inhabitat, Earth Day, Jill Fehrenbacher, Emily Pilloton, Jorge Chapa, Tylene Levesque, Mike Chino, Haily Zaki, Abigail Doan, Mahesh Basantani, Ali Kriscenski, mike.jpg


MIKE CHINO, Senior Writer, San Francisco, CA

This year’s Earth Day will find me rising to dawn’s twilight embrace at the brisk hour of 6:30 for a chat with the lovely Inhabitat edit team. We’ll discuss top-secret newsiness and cut plans for the day over coffee and banana bread. Then I’ll be off, freewheeling through San Francisco atop my trusty road bike. Starting from the sunny Mission district I’ll make a madcap dash down market street, bringing me to the Embarcadero’s incredible Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market.

My shopping list varies by what looks the best, but I’ll definitely be on the lookout for fresh spring greens and veggies to break up the past months’ hibernal proliferance of tubers and squash. Odds are that on my way out I’ll indulge in one of Miette’s perfect pistachio macaroons, and then it’s back home to hammer out a few posts for Inhabitat. As the sun starts to set, I’ll put in some work on our freshly sprouted garden, and then go for a jog before dusk and a dinner of stir-fried spring veggies.

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Inhabitat, Earth Day, Jill Fehrenbacher, Emily Pilloton, Jorge Chapa, Tylene Levesque, Mike Chino, Haily Zaki, Abigail Doan, Mahesh Basantani, Ali Kriscenski, Inhabitat Writer, Tylene Levesque, laura Tylene Levesque
TYLENE LEVESQUE, Far East Correspondent, Hong Kong
Unfortunately, I won’t be doing anything super exciting for Earth Day – I’m in the middle of packing and planning to move. My apartment now is on Hong Kong Island (think Manhattan, only everything is smaller and even more crowded). I work mainly from home so I decided to move out a bit where the air is (feels?) cleaner and there is more green space. I’ll be moving to an island called Ma Wan. It is a tiny, car-free island and since no private cars are allowed on the island everyone must use public transportation to get there. The island was the first to introduce electric-diesel hybrid buses in Hong Kong, the local park has implemented sustainable energy systems and the primary school on the island has an impressive solar roof. I’m not saying it is the greenest place, but I like that they are trying to make a difference. The great thing about living in Hong Kong is that there is always a hike, tree planting, beach cleaning event going on – you don’t have to wait for Earth Day to really participate in one. Moving isn’t really the type of thing people usually associate with Earth Day, but this is what I’ll be doing today.

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Inhabitat, Earth Day, Jill Fehrenbacher, Emily Pilloton, Jorge Chapa, Tylene Levesque, Mike Chino, Haily Zaki, Abigail Doan, Mahesh Basantani, Ali Kriscenski, Inhabitat Writer, Abigail Doan
JORGE CHAPA, Down Under Editor, Brisbane, Australia
Earth Day shouldn’t be seen as just another day in your calendar. Thinking about this little blue planet of ours should be an everyday occurence, not limited to a single day. So how will I celebrate Earth Day? I will do my best to keep improving the way that I live throughout the year by reducing my rather large footprint, keeping my water and energy use down, and by cycling and using public transportation as much as possible. So, here’s hoping that we never get “Have an environmentally friendly Earth Day” hallmark cards, gifts, or chocolates; but rather, let’s hope that Earth Day becomes Earth Week, Earth Year, and Earth Life.

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Inhabitat, Earth Day, Jill Fehrenbacher, Emily Pilloton, Jorge Chapa, Tylene Levesque, Mike Chino, Haily Zaki, Abigail Doan, Mahesh Basantani, Ali Kriscenski, Inhabitat Writer, Abigail Doan
ABIGAIL DOAN, Art & Style Editor, New York, NY
I will begin Earth Day with a stroll around Central Park with my six month old twins who are now at the stage where they really enjoy the movement of leaves, trees, and green things along our path, as well as the ducks, sunbathing turtles and resident herons at Turtle Pond.

From there I will return home to do some writing projects and urban gardening. I am hoping to finally plant something in my Baby Grobal, the self-watering planter that we recently featured on Inhabitat. I will also spend some dedicated studio and quiet time working on my year long Oikos(Domestic/Ecology) Project. This eco-art experiment consists of mixed media (fiber and scrap collage) constructions created in the domestic sphere with harvested, recycled, or repurposed materials from waste bits found within the immediate ‘nest building range’.

Since my husband is European, we will definitely cook a delicious Earth Day dinner with local farmer’s market ingredients and some of his favorite Bulgarian feta cheese, and perhaps accompany it by a good organic white wine. We also have a friend coming by for a pre-dinner drink as his son just returned safely from a sixteen month tour in Iraq. An ironic twist to Earth Day, but something that must certainly be acknowledged. Earth Day, for me, will be about tending to things in my immediate environment as an expression of the nurturing that we need to provide and cultivate on a global level as well.

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Inhabitat, Earth Day, Jill Fehrenbacher, Emily Pilloton, Jorge Chapa, Tylene Levesque, Mike Chino, Haily Zaki, Abigail Doan, Mahesh Basantani, Ali Kriscenski, inhabitat_mahesh.jpgSARAH RICH, Contributing Editor, San Francisco, CA
I have mixed feelings about Earth Day as a holiday. The various gestures and campaigns it incites often seem hastily cast towards a brief window of opportunity during which people care about the environment. Fortunately, it’s more obvious with every passing year that the window doesn’t close on April 23. In fact, since last Earth Day, we’ve become obsessed as a culture with quantifying and comparing our year-round ecological impacts, as well as those of our cities and countries, and the companies to whom we’re loyal. We salute the pursuit of a tiny footprint. But now we face the paralyzing conundrum of how to do it. Many people argue that in the looming shadow of gargantuan crises, small individual actions are inconsequential.

Read more in Sarah’s provocative editorial on Earth Day >>

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Inhabitat, Earth Day, Jill Fehrenbacher, Emily Pilloton, Jorge Chapa, Tylene Levesque, Mike Chino, Haily Zaki, Abigail Doan, Mahesh Basantani, Ali Kriscenski, inhabitat_mahesh.jpg

MAHESH BASANTANI, Contributing Writer, Lucknow, India
I was introduced to Earth Day after I started writing about green ideas at Inhabitat – thanks to folks here at Inhabitat and other green blogs – and a closer look on the internet reveals lots of activities happening all around the globe. While I will not be doing anything specific on this day, I will take this opportunity to salute all those visionary thinkers, architects, scientists, sustainable designers and developers, politicians, organizations, etc. whose tireless efforts have successfully brought environmental issues to the forefront and made us realize the importance of living a greener way of life. I would also like to tell all my friends and acquaintances, some of whom might not be aware of it, about this day. More such events are needed to make people stop and think, “Am I doing enough?” You can also check out these 10 tools to help you better organize your Earth Day.

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Inhabitat, Earth Day, Jill Fehrenbacher, Emily Pilloton, Jorge Chapa, Tylene Levesque, Mike Chino, Haily Zaki, Abigail Doan, Mahesh Basantani, Ali Kriscenski, jason.jpg


JASON SAHLER, Operations Asst/Contributing Writer, NY, NY

For Earth Day, I am not really going to do anything much different than I do, or at least try and do, on every other day of the year. I will make the hour walk to work (and count the number of single occupied cars going across the Brooklyn Bridge), and spend my day trying to make Inhabitat the best damn blog out there. Then, after work, i will walk back and visit a great little cafe in Brooklyn Heights called Siggy’s and get some organic chow. If your ever in the neighborhood, check it out. It’s great.

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Inhabitat, Earth Day, Jill Fehrenbacher, Emily Pilloton, Jorge Chapa, Tylene Levesque, Mike Chino, Haily Zaki, Abigail Doan, Mahesh Basantani, Ali Kriscenski, ali.jpg


ALI KRISCENSKI, Managing Editor, NRW, Germany

This Earth Day I hope to escape to my garden, a small plot of abandoned land that has become a source of locally-grown sustenance. From this patch of earth a season of bounty is taking root with the tomatoes, potatoes, sugar peas, leeks, corn, garlic, basil, zucchini, pumpkins, carrots and radishes that will grow among my favorite scents of lavender and cilantro, and buffers of wildflowers. From this spot, I can see an inland wind turbine test site. Perched on top of the remains of open-pit coal mining, these turbines represent a small triumph and, to me, a glimmer of hope that the future holds the promise of clean energy and a world where no one need shoulder the burden of industry. From the garden, the sight of the whirring turbine blades and the dancing of bees and bugs are, for me, a glimpse towards a cleaner future.

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HAILY ZAKI, Contributing Writer, Los Angeles, CA
As it happens, Earth Day is actually my wedding anniversary. Two years ago, my husband and I took 30 of our closest friends on a 4-mile hike up into the mountains of the Angeles Forest and had a camping wedding out in the middle of nowhere. We hired a pack mule, and essentially lived in the forest for a weekend with our best pals celebrating our union; zip line, bears, mountain lions, and hydroponic power included. To celebrate in 2008, since we’re short on time, we’re going on a special green, gastronomic escape to the famous foothills of Piemonte, Italy (special green prix fixe menu at a local restaurant called Melograno). Far less a carbon footprint than the actual trip, and the same lovely post-meal afterglow!

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EVELYN LEE, Senior Contributing Editor, San Francisco, CA
This Earth Day I plan on wearing blue in support of Ed Mazria’s 2030 initiative and will probably at least ponder for a minute whether or not any more readers will find their way to our Inhabitat thread and decide to make more than a one day commitment to saving the planet. Earth Day offers up a good opportunity to commit to new, or renewed resolutions when it comes to green living, so I will do my best to continue to live out and expand upon my green habits and have made resolutions to try to expand my habits to my close friends in relatives through a bit of persistent persuasion. I’m currently saving my pennies for an update to my 2004 Prius that activates the EV mode so that it runs on electric engine longer.
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Piper Kujac, Contributing Writer, San Francisco, CA
This Earth Day comes with a lot of exhaustion – literally, physically, mentally.. all the ‘green this and green that’ incentives are tiresome to me at this point! How did we get to this place in time, where we’ve been screwing up for so long that we constantly need to be told what to do?

It reminds me of that Gabriel Garcia Marquez story ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ where everyone in that little town gets mercury poisoning (or some kind of poisoning) and they have to start labeling everything… a label for the chair; a label for the wall; a label for your green building??

As a kid, Earth Day was associated with Beach Clean Up Day in the little town of Coos Bay, OR. It was a productive day of physical work and community pride for what are still beautiful, pristine coastal lands. But here in San Francisco, I no longer feel effective picking up trash from our oil laden beaches, still greased up from that stupid oil spill last year. Clearly all this inane human error is getting to me, as even my ever-determined self is feeling a little worn out.

So what is up for me this Earth Day? I’m being reconnected with the rock stars that make up Inhabitat, and that’s a good thing! Also, this week the Eco City World Summit is being hosted in San Francisco at the UC Berkeley Extension, where I teach two classes in Sustainable Design. I am proud of all the volunteer efforts of our students and am looking forward to hearing from the amazing line up of panelists. Urban Re-Vision and Architects for Humanity will host an Earth Day/ Eco City Summit kick off party that night. Though showing up to this gathering will not necessarily make improvements on our planet…I am again thankful to the community efforts around us, and with a good ol’ Woody Allen approach of ‘90% of life is just showing up’ I will draw upon the great people around me for inspiration.

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Top Photo: Earth from Above/Yann Arthus-Bertrand

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3 Comments

  1. whaletwin1 April 23, 2008 at 10:38 am

    I had a wonderful Earth Day. My husband and I met with a builder to discuss our plans to build our dream “green” home and it went very well. We are very excited to move forward with this project and model the green building techniques that local builders here are only now starting to think about using.
    After that I volunteered in my son’s third grade classroom and taught a lesson on the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). To share my passion for the environment with these kids and to see their eagerness to learn was priceless. When they all wanted to keep the various “recycleable” items I had them use to come up with ways to reuse them (like the plastic pouch my daughter’s character underwear came in!), I was surprised and felt like I made a small difference that will hopefully spark a bigger understanding of the importance of their actions and the impact on the environment. Now I am inspired to plan a year long lesson on the environment that I can teach next year.

  2. Lokendra Sharma April 22, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Earth Day was first observed on April 22, 1970. The goal of the day was to attract public attention to the growing needs for cleaner air and water. Additionally, the need to conserve the earth’s natural resources was emphasized.

    Former Senator Gaylord Nelson first proposed the idea for Earth Day in 1969. He came up with the idea while reading about anti-war teach-ins which were occurring on several college campuses in the United States. Nelson’s idea was to have a nationwide teach-in on the environment. His idea became very popular and in 1970, more than 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day.

    On this anniversary of Earth Day in we should “increase awareness, responsibility and action toward a clean, health future for all living things.”

  3. Lokendra Sharma April 22, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Earth Day was first observed on April 22, 1970. The goal of the day was to attract public attention to the growing needs for cleaner air and water. Additionally, the need to conserve the earth\’s natural resources was emphasized.

    Former Senator Gaylord Nelson first proposed the idea for Earth Day in 1969. He came up with the idea while reading about anti-war teach-ins which were occurring on several college campuses in the United States. Nelson\’s idea was to have a nationwide teach-in on the environment. His idea became very popular and in 1970, more than 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day.

    On the 25th anniversary of Earth Day in 1990, more than 200 million people worldwide participated in activities designed by the Earth Day Network to \”increase awareness, responsibility and action toward a clean, health future for all living things.\”

    we should contribute at our level to make our earth good.

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