I noticed a disturbing trend yesterday: a flurry of emails in my inbox encouraging me to buy something in honor of Earth Day. To be fair, I may in fact go buy a ceramic compost pail, but I was already looking for one. I’m not, however, going to buy a discounted sweater or a marked down TV for Earth Day. At what point did Earth Day become a shopping holiday? I’m not sure, but it makes me stabby.

If Any Day Should Be Safe from Sales Pitches…
The whole purpose of Earth Day is to promote conservation of resources and being kind to the environment. Adding a trip to the shopping mall or buying new clothes online that will then need to be shipped are not ways to conserve resources or reduce your impact.

Want to let me know about a new green cleaning product? That’s more reasonable, but most of those items are greenwashed, not actually green. Save your fraudulent claims for some other day.

What Should We Do with Earth Day?
Earth Day used to be a more political movement. It saw marches, rallies, tree-planting events, beach clean-up events, etc. Now it’s just another day to get hit by more advertisements for CFL lightbulbs and recycled sweaters or attend a festival where performers offset their energy use with “carbon credits” and sponsors hawk their various recycled wares.

Let’s go back to the core idea of Earth Day – take a step back from your stuff. Take a break from consumerism. Use this day to drive less, not more. Buy less, not more. Get together with people to plant trees or clean up a park, not enjoy a meal in a restaurant that will donate $1 to an environmental charity for every meal. Instead of buying a reusable water bottle, go pick up all the disposable bottles that are littering your local park. Instead of trying a new green laundry detergent, look at ways to reduce your detergent consumption.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that corporations are trying to be more responsible, but they’re not being responsible because they want to be. They’re being responsible because there is a profit motive to appearing green, and it impresses legislators considering restrictive new requirements.

So, let’s cut the corporations out again. Let’s make Earth Day a day to honor our earth and treat it kindly, not use the Earth Day coupon or snap up an Earth Day t-shirt.

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