Since Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed the first Earth Day more than 40 years ago, the day of environmental action has morphed into something quite different — not unlike the environmental movement itself.
Greenwashing is ubiquitous year-round, but it’s especially in bloom around April 22. Take the particularly brazen example of an Earth Day poster contest in Utah that asked schoolchildren to sing the praises of oil, gas and mining. It’s enough to turn some off to the idea entirely, as it has for writer Marc Gunther:
So why do I hate #EarthDay? Stupid email pitches, companies patting themselves on the back, sustainability by anecdote.— Marc Gunther (@MarcGunther) April 10, 2013
With the brutal logic of climate change staring down society, we’re in bad shape if environmental action remains merely a holiday ritual like pumpkin carving.
If Earth Day compels you to do more than talk, you can join a political rally against hydraulic fracturing and oil sands pipelines. Or follow EPA's advice on how to reduce your personal impact on the environment.
But there’s still something affirming about a day of service (more info here), or even just a bit of time set aside for personal reflection or a hike.
Here are a few events around town:
Learn to garden with PERRO, the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization. April 20, 11 a.m. — 2 p.m. 1423 W. 17th St.
Picnic with The Nature Conservancy in Millennium Park if you’re downtown. April 20, 11 a.m. — 3 p.m. Millennium Park, Chase Promenade South Tent.
Sow seeds with Slow Food Chicago at PreSERVE Garden in North Lawndale. April 20, 10 a.m. — 12 p.m. 12th Place and Central Park Avenue.
Run a 5K for Earth Day. The fourth annual race partners with GreenChoice Bank, the state’s first benefit corporation, and Gobi Project, a mobile DJ booth powered by solar panels. April 27, 9 a.m., Humboldt Park.
Raise a glass with the Natural Resources Defense Council at a craft beer tasting to support craft brewers who have pledged to defend water quality legislation. April 22, 6-9 p.m. 825 W. Erie St.
Crunch numbers at "Earth Data: A Sustainable Chicago 2015 Celebration," wherein the city’s data folk team up with Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and the World Wide Fund for Nature to discuss Big Data and climate change in preparation for a hackathon on April 26. April 22, 6-9 p.m. 78 E. Washington Ave.