(Photo from From Me to You)
Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and with today's weather in the Northeast, it feels like the Earth sending us a treat. There's a slight breeze and the sun is warm but the air is crisp, my favorite kind of weather. I'm using today to think about what I can do to reduce my footprint in the world, like remembering that I put cloth bags in my car for when I go grocery shopping and actually taking them into the store with me. There are lots of small things that we can all do to make a difference and I need to start being more conscious of that.
My favorite Earth Day memory is from my junior year in college. One of my good friends on campus was president of the student club SEA (Student Environmental Association) and I somehow got roped into being the secretary that year. We really wanted to do some fun activities and the club members (who were basically a bunch of our friends) were on board. In the fall, we collected bottles and cans from the townhouses where senior parties were thrown--by Sunday mornings, there were hundreds of cans from the Thursday, Friday and Saturday night parties. I also arranged for the head zookeeper from the Beardsley Zoo to come and speak in February. He brought many animals and we had a pretty decent turnout. But for Earth Day, we thought that it would be a great idea to sell plants in the campus center to students, faculty and staff.
The big problem with this was that we didn't have any money to buy the plants in the first place. I had been working on some other fundraiser projects and I knew that companies, large and small, were usually willing to donate to a good cause. I called the local Home Depot store and the manager promised us 200 plants as long as we could pick them up. The plants were in small, spongy planters, like the ones that are sold at elementary school plant sales and were all different colors. I didn't have a car yet (it took me another 6 months to save up for one) so I had to borrow a friend's Pontiac to load up the plants, get them to the campus center, bring them in, arrange them on the table and make sure there was at least one SEA member there at all times to sell them for 50 cents each from noon to 4:00pm.
The event was extremely successful--we sold every plant and people kept coming by while we were cleaning up asking for more. We donated the money and for a few days, felt really good about our contributions. I remember how stressful it was to get everything ready in time and still go to class, do homework, go to my job and go to meetings for other organizations I was in. It seems so silly now but we all were thrilled when Home Depot offered all of those plants for free. Thinking back on it makes me smile and wish I had window-boxes to plant some cheerful flowers of my own.