Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Value of Earth Week

Every year it happens. April comes about and people chat briefly about conservation of resources and saving the planet. Perhaps they plant a tree for Arbor Day. Perhaps they turn off a light for a while. Others try to walk to school once or twice. Others think about greening but never quite get to it, just like those ever elusive new years resolutions. Others manage to make a small yet significant change to their lifestyle choices. They buy local produce, perhaps, or purchase a reusable water bottle. They decide to recycle at home or purchase a fuel efficient vehicle.

Earth Week plays an important educational role in our school's culture. By now Earth Week is a known entity. It is a time that affords introspection for administration, staff, faculty, students and parents alike. If it is not, it should be. If it is, then the introspection allows for personal and informal assessment of what is important in the manner by which we, as human visitors to the Earth, live our lives.

On campus Earth Week is a celebration of applying what we know to what we do. It provides us with opportunities to go out to nature (appreciation) or plant trees (stewardship). It gives us the chance to turn our waste into a new generation of products (recycling) instead of going to the landfill. It gives us a chance to do our little bit to make a big difference.

But really Earth Week should provide us with a small glimpse of how we should be living on a daily basis. If you don't keep your energy use in check, then perhaps you should. If you don't keep your water use in check, perhaps you should. If you don't car pool, perhaps you should. We can all do better with what we have. At ISKL we try to reach all our students in making them environmentally-friendly citizens of the world. It is no longer a privilege to be so. As the information regarding human impact on the environment mounts it becomes increasingly obvious that we, as members of planet Earth, can no longer hide behind our collective fingers. Regardless of whether or not you personally believe in the human impact on global climate change it should be a no-brainer to recognize that environmentally-appropriate behaviors make smarter choices in the long run.

So, when Earth Week comes to pass on April 25th (Orangutan Rock - come visit!) we hope that the entire community will take the discussions had, the chats and the small improvements, and make them part of our lifestyle. If Earth Week can become a daily routine rather than merely a week-long celebration it would certainly be a sign that we have come of age as a community. The true success would be the realization that we no longer need such a week in the first place. But, for now, and as our collective environmental consciousness creeps just a little higher, happy Earth Week everyone!

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