Tag Archives: Earth Day

Does anybody care about Earth Day?

I feel like nobody cares about Earth Day. I went out to get some breakfast this morning, and when the barista gave me my large coffee and my bacon egg and cheese, instead of saying just, “Thanks,” I said, “Thanks. Happy Earth Day.” And he kind or just looked at me for a second, he couldn’t process what I’d just said to him, like it was clear that I was definitely the first person that had wished him a happy Earth Day, that he didn’t know how to respond. So I waited there for an awkward second, and then he took an extra one of those cardboard sleeves and put it around my coffee, even though it already had one. Now it had two.


Was that his way of telling me that he didn’t care about Earth Day? Like, for every happy Earth Day, he’ll go ahead and waste another coffee sleeve? I thought about getting into it with him, starting a whole, “What the hell man?” back and forth, like, “Are you wasting that sleeve just because I said happy Earth Day?” Like, was he just trying to show off how little regard he had for the planet, for waste, for unnecessary trash?

But before I had a chance to open my mouth, I thought, well, maybe he was just trying to be nice, in his own way. Because aren’t those sleeves made out of mostly post-consumer recycled waste? I think they are. At least, the ones at Starbucks are. This was a much smaller coffee shop. It wasn’t even a coffee shop, not really, more like a corner deli, the kind of deli that sells everything, coffee, sandwiches, cigarettes, toilet paper. I guess calling that guy a barista was a little much.

And these sleeves, they weren’t the cool eco-friendly rustic, brown, ragged-edged sleeves you see at most of the hip coffee shops downtown. No, these were glossy, and they advertised Stride chewing gum. So I was wondering if maybe the people at Stride were just giving them away to random bodegas around the city. “Here you go! Free sleeves! Free advertising!” A real win-win.

But, even a sleeve made out of non-recycled pre-consumer material, I guess that’s still much better than the old fashioned Styrofoam coffee cups you used to see everywhere. So maybe this guy, giving me an extra sleeve, that was his own way of expressing solidarity, like, “Yeah man, happy Earth Day to you too. Look how far we’ve come, as a society, as deli workers. You don’t see nearly as many non-biodegradable cups as you used to. All thanks to small changes, like these sleeves. Here, have an extra. Happy Earth Day.”

Of course, he was just kind of staring at me blankly, and so his response was mostly up to my interpretation. Still, in the spirit of Earth Day, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, I’d take his gesture as a friendly one, as an eco-friendly one. I thanked him again and went home.

But sitting there in my kitchen, I couldn’t get the extra sleeve out of my head, regardless of the potential positive intentions. It was just such a waste. I didn’t need it. Here I was, going around to random delis, trying to spread some Earth Day cheer, and I was just contributing to the lack of respect for Mother Earth.

I went outside and I tried to make a tiny little potted plant out of the sleeve. I filled it with dirt and planted an heirloom seed I bought on the Internet. Later that day, it started raining, and the sleeve basically disintegrated after being thoroughly soaked. All of the ink from the advertisement leaked out, and I could hear the planet softly weeping, “Rob! Why would you do this to me? All of those inks, those chemicals, what did I do to deserve any of this? And on Earth Day? Really?”

So yeah, I just, I can’t, every year I try to make Earth Day something special, and every year it’s a total bust.

Earth Day was a huge bust

I keep thinking about Earth Day, about how I didn’t do enough, how I wasted it. I wrote about it. I picked up a ton of trash. Well, not a ton, but some. I picked up some trash. The world just needs so much more healing. I could have helped to heal it so much more. Just a little bit more healing would have been a little bit toward a long way of long term healing, renewal, growth.

Like, I had this idea about buying some water filters, you know, the ones that you put in a pitcher and you run your tap water through them and the water gets purified. I thought, OK, I could like buy one, or three of them, because I think they come in three packs. One pack of three filters. I could buy it and throw them in the East River. Do you know how disgusting the East River is? Very disgusting. It smells like, well, I don’t even know exactly how to describe it. But it’s not pleasant.

So I thought, you know, maybe this would be me doing me part, a very small part, hardly noticeable at all. But I’d be filtering some water, even if just a couple of drops. What if, in the future, like generations from now, there’s some dying child who might survive if only he or she had a couple of drops of clean water? Like, I know it’s probably unlikely, but there has to be a line between dying of thirst and not dying of thirst, and what if that line was just those drops that I’d be saving?

But then I thought, no, because what about the plastic filters? After they finished purifying all of the water that they could filter, the remnants of their spent shells would just add to the pollution. What good is a couple of drops of clean water if just downstream, that little piece of plastic gets picked up by a seagull? And the seagull might carry it out to the ocean. And once that seagull drops it in the ocean, I don’t know, there could be like an otter or a manatee, and it might try to eat the filter. And it would choke and die. Did I really feel like shouldering that potential responsibility?

I didn’t. I returned the filters. I didn’t have a receipt, because I’m very environmentally conscious, and so every time I buy something at a store, even before the clerk has a chance to say, “Hello,” I tell him or her, “Listen, I don’t need a receipt. It’s a huge waste of paper. There are just too many paper receipts out there, littering the sidewalks, filling up the landfills. Do you guys have any paperless options? Something green, something eco-friendly?” and usually I never return stuff, but this time it was kind of a pain in the ass. The clerk had to get a manager, the manager was reluctant to refund my money, I had to go into my whole no-receipt philosophy, and I was halfway through explaining how long those receipts take to biodegrade before the manager was just like, whatever, here’s your money, please leave.

And I’ve been feeling kind of off ever since, like, man, I wish there was more I could do for the river, for the earth. That’s when I had this thought, this brilliant idea. I could buy a bunch of fishing lines, and instead of a hook, I could attach the water filter. And so I’d cast out the lines and keep them in there for however long it would take for all of the filtering properties to be used up, and then I could reel them in and dispose of them properly.

So I’ve been kind of in a funk, wishing that I had thought of this idea on Earth Day, not weeks after Earth Day. If only I could have really taken advantage of the holiday, people might have been like, “What are you doing?” and I’d be like, “Oh, you know, it’s Earth Day, so I’m doing my part to help clean up the water.”

But then I went back to the drug store and I started looking at the water filters, but the box didn’t say what type of plastic was used for the casing. I took it to the register and asked the clerk, “Excuse me, do you know if this plastic is recyclable? Is it BHP free?” and the clerk wouldn’t even talk to me. She just stared at me, unwilling to even try to help me help the world, which she’s a part of. I’d be helping her out too.

Man, it’s tough being such a lone environmentalist. I can’t wait for the global shift in consciousness that I keep reading about online. Until then, I’ll just have to keep my head down, try to forget about what a bust this Earth Day was, do some research on sustainable water filters, just keep trying to make a difference, spreading the word, you know, any way I can help out, help the planet.

Happy Earth Day!

I’m not trying to brag or anything, but it’s common knowledge amongst my friends, my family, my coworkers, that I’m the most Earth-friendly guy around. I love the earth. I’m always walking around with my head down to the ground, one, to admire it, the earth, I just love looking at it, and two, I’m scanning my immediate surroundings for any litter. If I spot some litter, I immediately pick it up off the ground. If there’s a trashcan nearby, I’ll pitch it in there, I’ll brush my hands together in satisfaction, looking around at everybody, seeing if anybody’s looking at me, thinking to themselves, wow, that guy really cares, he really loves the earth, the planet. And maybe the litterer is still around. Maybe he or she saw me pick up the litter. And that person will be touched, like, jeez, one person really can make a difference. If there aren’t any trashcans around, I’ll put it into this biodegradable tote bag that I carry on me specifically for this reason, for finding trash but being too far away from a trashcan. The tote bag says, “I heart Earth,” you know, but it doesn’t say the word heart, it’s a picture of a heart.


And then when I do find a trashcan I’ll dump out the contents of my tote bag which, depending on how far away I’ve been from a trashcan, it might be pretty full. One time it was very full, and when I finally found a trashcan, when I finally started dumping everything out, some police officer came over and was like, “Hey buddy! You can’t dump your trash into that trashcan!” and I was like, “What are you talking about? Isn’t this what the trashcans are here for?” and he was like, “Yeah, for individual pieces of trash. You can’t dump all of your trash in there.” And so I told him, about the tote bag, I showed him the tote bag, I explained that I go around scanning the earth for litter, than I collect it and dispose of it properly.

The police officer looked at me and even though his facial expression remained quite stern, I could tell that I’d gotten through to him somehow. He took out his ticket book and started writing out a violation. And then I thought, oh man, maybe I haven’t gotten through to him. But then he showed the ticket. And this is what he wrote: “Name: Litter – Violation: Pollution – Recommended Sentence: Awareness. Compassion. Renewal.”

I looked him in the eye. I said, “Something has changed inside of you, hasn’t it?” and he said, “Yes. Yes it has,” and he opened up his hand and the wind took the ticket and carried it into the air. So I was like, “Wait a second, what are you doing?” and he said, “I just wrote up pollution, for littering,” but I was like, “But … but you just littered. That ticket. That’s going to fall somewhere. That’s litter.”

And then I looked at him again, and it was the same as before, an almost identical facial expression, but still I could tell that even more had changed inside of him. This time it was more than just awareness, more than simply an expansion of his universal consciousness. This time there was a tinge of remorse. He flipped the page in his ticket book and wrote another citation, but this one was for himself, for littering. The fine was pretty steep, five hundred bucks. And this time he ripped the ticket out of the ticket book, he handed it to me and told me to hand it back to him. I did. I nodded at him, like saying without saying, “You’ve taken a big step here officer,” and I think that he was saying without saying, “Thank you.”

Look, I’m just one man, one man who loves the Earth. I really, really love it. My favorite Planeteer was always the earth Planeteer. Whenever I have to pick out a color, for anything, I try to choose an earth tone. When I’m at a restaurant and the waiter asks me if I’d like a glass of wine, I always ask which one has the earthiest flavors. If I have a daughter someday, I plan on naming her Bertha, so that way I’ll get to say Earth every time I say her name. Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I’ve tweaked this statement somewhat. I always say, “Be the change that you wish to see in the earth.” Because I love the earth even more than Gandhi did. And whenever people say, “Wow Rob, who came up with that quote?” I reply, “Me. I did.”