The bells of mindfulness are calling out to us,
trying to wake us up to look deeply
at our impact on the planet. ~Thich Nhat Hanh
The Earth Day SF festival was an informative & enjoyable bell of mindfulness to wake up and consider sustainable alternatives to consumption, to live simply and healthfully. I mingled with crowds of other earthlings who seemed happy to enjoy the warm spring weather as they strolled among the booths of recycled jewelry, solar power vendors and organic T-shirts, plus many organic and vegan food options. Enjoyed a group meditative period, then freely swaying with the music of Lis Addison and her circle of song and dance honoring body, mind, spirit, voice and the wisdom of mother earth. Good music filled the afternoon space.
The emphasis of this SF festival was on do-it-yourself projects and teaching people how to bring sustainable practices into their homes, or at least give more thought to living a little greener. Solar panels powered all the booths and sound at the festival.
The first Earth Day was organized by Gaylord Nelson, a former U.S. senator from Wisconsin, in 1970 as a way to bring environmental protection onto the national political agenda. The first Earth Day was a teach-in modeled after the anti-Vietnam War protests. An estimated 20 million people participated. It’s expected that more than a billion people in 192 countries to take part in 2013 earth day celebrations.
Earth Verse by Gary Snyder
Wide enough to keep you looking
Open enough to keep you moving
Dry enough to keep you honest
Prickly enough to make you tough
Green enough to go on living
Old enough to give you dreams
Living an environmentally conscious lifestyle may seem like a daunting task, but there are simple actions you can take on Earth Day and beyond to become more Earth-friendly.
• Carry a reusable water bottle | According to the Dopper Foundation, 6,000 single-use plastic water bottles are thrown away every four seconds in the U.S., and only roughly 20 percent are recycled. Carrying a personal water bottle that you can fill up with tap water can cut down on waste and save you money.
• Unplug electronics after you’re done with them | Many of your electronics and appliances, like microwaves, televisions and cell phone chargers draw power from the plug even when you are not using them. According to the Stanford University School of Earth Sciences, you can cut down on this so-called “vampire power” by simply unplugging devices when they are not in use, or buying a smart power strip that will do this for you.
• Replace old incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescents | The EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, which identifies power-saving products in the marketplace, says that replacing just one incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent will save $40 in energy costs over the lifetime of the bulb. Compact fluorescents use about 75 percent less energy, produce 75 percent less heat and last at least six times as long as standard bulbs.
• Bike to school, the grocery or work | According to BikesBelong.org, for every one mile on a bike instead of in a car, you can save one pound of CO2.
• Plant a tree | Planting a tree can help lessen pollution and provide shade to help reduce urban “heat islands” that are harmful to human health. Over the course of a year, a single tree can absorb about 48 pounds of carbon, making them some of the cheapest and most effective means of reducing CO2, according to the Arbor Environmental Alliance.
I’m certain you are considering further harmonious and sustainable actions such as a “no car day” weekly or installing solar panels. Click here for a useful earth peace treaty commitment sheet with dozens of personal action ideas. Thich Nhat Hanh, in accord with other spiritual leaders and scientists, emphasizes how acceptance of problems is that first critical step toward a deeper understanding of the best way to care for our Earth.