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Anneli Rufus

Anneli Rufus

Posted April 22, 2009 | 04:05 PM (EST)

"Screw Earth Day," They Say


The folks at Grist, one of the world's top green blogs, are behind a "Screw Earth Day!" campaign, based on the premise that "one day is for amateurs" and that really making a difference means living green every day, not just today. Grist argues that while Earth Day "played a critical role in launching the modern-day environmental movement ... its message has become watered down" since 1970, when then-U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin) first established it as an environmental "teach-in."

Screwing Earth Day is irreverent. It's ironic. It's counterintuitive, which is one of the best ways to seize attention in these divisive days when we believe we're totally on one side and the other side is frickin' nuts but then someone who seems to be on our side (Grist) does something that seems way out there on the other side (denouncing Earth Day), which forces us to think -- hard -- beyond sides. It sends us ploughing through the walls and fences and hedges and the smoke and mirrors that separate the sides, straight through to the issues themselves. There we stand startled, sweating, blinking, blurting: Huh. What matters matters -- not who says it does.

The same thing happens when someone we thought was on the other side (take your pick) does something that seems to be on our side (pick again). Surprise!

"Screw Earth Day!" is clever because, even in its stomping denial of the holiday that makes millions of otherwise wasteful people feel okay about themselves and maybe do some eco-conscious stuff for twenty-four hours, it attracts attention to this day nonetheless. So maybe, caught up in the clamor of the stomps, a few folks who never thought one way or another about Earth Day now suddenly will. That's nice.

As for the premise that we should be green all year -- well, yeah. I am a scavenger. And every lamp or DVD player that any scavenger plucks from a curb and every loaf or coat that any scavenger plucks from a trash bin is one less item that would otherwise end up in a landfill, and/or transported across the miles to be processed, disintegrated, manufactured into something else, then transported again, again, again. Shopping at thrift stores and yard sales means that much less must now be manufactured.

For scavengers, every day is Earth Day.