But are they?
I don’t think so.
As a person who studies way too much history – for fun mind you! – I see a lot of big scary environmental problems found and fixed since that very first Earth Day in 1969. For example:
- We have gotten on the ball, and cleaned up environmental problems and put laws into place to prevent harmful materials to be included into our products. You can’t buy lead paint anymore. Its sale was prohibited in 1978. In 1994 federal law restricted toilet tanks to 1.6 gallons per flush to save water although some states regulated this earlier. You might already have a low flow toilet in your home and not even realize it!
- No more river fires and the dumping of toxic chemicals is illegal. Growing up on Lake Erie, I heard about the 1969 Cuyahoga River Fire. A spark from a road bridge set the sludge and waste factories dumped into the Cuyahoga River on fire. Because of this Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, started the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.) We now have regulations on what we can and cannot do with industrial waste products and the sale and use of many hazardous products are illegal. Whether these regulations are followed, loop holed, or enforced to the letter of the law is another story and may need work.
- No more smoggy foggy skies. How many references to Victorian London talked about fog enveloping Good Old London Town? It wasn’t fog – it was smog from factory chimneys. Los Angeles was famous for its smog too. Now I rarely if ever hear jokes about smoggy days from late night comedians located in Beautiful Downtown Burbank.
- Items like recycling, reusable shopping bags, reusable water bottles, and green cleaners and more! Are commonly talked about and used. Many cities have recycling programs built into their waste management programs. Where cities have fallen short, local, national, and nonprofit organizations and businesses that have stepped up to recycle items such as eyeglasses, ewaste, cell phones, makeup tubes, batteries and hard plastic bottle caps. Even people who may not agree with recycling or going green are still aware enough of all these things to make fun of them by name :)
- There is a wider array of environmentally friendlier products available to mainstream shoppers and small town America. Some people may think it’s the end of days now that more mainstream companies are offering environmentally friendlier versions of their products, purchasing smaller green companies as subsidiaries, or at the very least redesigning their packaging to use less material or contain recycled content. Not me. I like that companies that once upon a time thought of green consumers as some crazy hippie niche are trying to serve us because we as consumers are voting with our dollars when a company takes steps in a greener direction. And we as consumers are also willing to stop buying products from those companies that think natural ingredients don’t work as well or are as good as petrochemical mixes.
So yes, I’m hopeful. There’s a growing awareness and people willing to campaign, and blog, and do what they can on a personal level to make their little parts of the world a better place.
So what about you? Is your Earth Day glass half full or half empty?
Updated 4/22/10:Correction. Sorry folks I got my dates mixed up. Food Inc. played on PBS April 21, 2010.Sorry about the mix up. Check if your library has a copy to see it for free.
Disclosure: This post contains affliate links. If you chose to make a purchase using the link in this post, I earn a small commission (really small) which will help me with my goal of making Condo Blues a self hosted blog at no additional cost to you. Although I encourage you to check your local library for the items mentiond in this post first.