Earth day: A Blast from the past

Earth Day has always held a special place in my heart. When I had an opportunity to represent the Greater Louisville Sierra Club on the  planning committee for Louisville’s Earth Walk event, I didn’t hesitate to join.

My most powerful memory of  Earth day was April 22, 1970, the very first one. My high school in  Vandalia, Ohio created a meaningful celebration that molded my thinking about the environment for the rest of my life. Some visionary students, along with very supportive faculty, developed a powerful and informative day long event. The purpose of the day was to show the evils of pollution and students’ concern over this problem. This included student made films, speeches, and huge display of trash on the school property.  One skit showed what life would look like in 1990 if people didn’t heed the warnings. A highlight of the day was a funeral march past the city building and through the center of town to symbolize how the environment was dying.

Many of the things we take for granted today, e.g., clean drinking water, and breathable air, would not have been possible without the environmental activism of the 70’s. Prior to Earth Day and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, rivers were literally on fire, air pollution/smog was affecting the health of people in large U.S. urban areas, and  we were unaware of hazardous waste sites that eventually became Superfund sites thanks to the EPA.

The information that was presented to us that day,  especially how our personal choices/ lifestyle directly impacts the environment, had a profound effect on me. As a consumer, I make purchases with awareness of how products and packaging will affect the environment. As a mother and teacher, I have tried to instill a passion within children about sustainability and how to appreciate and protect the earth.  As a tax payer and voter, and I make choices based on environmental issues.  I support organizations that advocate for a healthier planet, such as the Sierra Club.  My ultimate hope is that the Louisville Earth Walk will also touch some young lives the way the first Earth Day touched mine!

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