Will You Make a Pledge on Earth Day 2011?

Posted by Patrick James

Earth Day

April is the cruelest month, but not for the reasons T.S. Eliot cited. No, I'm talking about Earth Day press releases, which—especially considering this year's absurd batch—represent the degradation of a day designed to foster environmental care-taking into a marketing frenzy for "sustainably" produced knickknacks.

That said, the day doesn't have to be about buying crap you don't need. 

Two years ago, I made a pledge give up red meat from Earth Day until the end of the year, the idea being I could effect a meaningful change—not for the whole Earth, necessarily, but at least for my own life. I ate almost exclusively vegetarian from mid-April through December, and although I now eat meat again, I eat a lot less of it than I used to. 

I'm not delusional. My actions, in and of themselves, are almost totally inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. But they did give me a structure with which to think about my relationship with the environment everyday, thus turning Earth Day into a springboard for action and reflection—all year.

And I wasn't alone. We called upon the GOOD community to make Earth Day pledges, and the results were impressive. 

So this year, we're doing it again. Maybe you'll finally commit to using your reusable grocery bags. Maybe you'll make an effort to walk, bike, or use public transit instead of your car. Maybe you, like me, will give up red meat for a while (or forever). Of course, you shouldn't feel limited to ideas based on restraint or abstention. Maybe you'll think of something totally awesome that we don't even know about. 

The goal of these pledges is twofold: to infuse a stupid holiday with a modicum of meaningful action, and to commit to improving your relationship with the world around you. 

On Earth Day, we'll put up a follow-up post, and you can make your pledges in the comments. That gives you one week to think about it. Check back on April 22, make your Earth Day pledge, and let's go out with a bang.

Photo (cc) by Flickr user Steve P 2008