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An Earth Day for 2021

Yesterday marked the 51st Earth Day! I’m sure that there are many sites that will list tips to reduce your carbon footprint and be a better steward of the Earth. This is not that kind of post.

The Earth Day Flag [Image Description: a photo transfer of a NASA image of the Earth on a dark blue background.] Source: Wikipedia

Did you know that the first Earth Day was a massive protest? What started as a nationwide environmental teach-in became a 20 million person protest, demanding the US government do more for the environment. The Earth Day protest proved successful; over the next few years, the US enacted a slew of environmental agencies and standards. Here’s a sample of what happened within the next three years after the first Earth Day:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (1970)
  • Clean Air Act (1970)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (1970)
  • Banning of DDT (1972)
  • Clean Water Act (1972)
  • Endangered Species Act (1973)
  • Leaded Gasoline Phase-Out (1973)

While we have many environmental protections in place, we have a lot of work to do to ensure everyone has access to clean water, pollution-free air, and opportunities to recreate in beautiful parks. Most often, it is underserved and underrepresented communities that suffer environmental catastrophes. We don’t have to look far back in history for examples: the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Flint water crisis from 2014-2019, and the ongoing battles against the Dakota Access Pipeline clearly show how environmental issues intersect with racism and poverty. 

While it’s too early to truly celebrate any recent victories in social and environmental justice, I find this spring more hopeful than the last. Where is the hope I speak of? Hope is found in every piece of trash we compost, in every company we hold accountable, and every environmental act our governments pass. Hope is found in standing in solidarity with protestors, donating to bail funds, and fighting white supremacy. Hope is found whenever we view environmentalism with an intersectional lens; it’s all connected, as they say, in a loop that never ends.

[Image Description: A woman with a day pack stands at the base of a redwood tree and is looking up. The tree is massive, and makes the woman look very small.] Source: personal photograph.

Learn more about the history of Earth Day:
EPA History: Earth Day (EPA)
Earth Day at 50: A look at the past, present, and future (NOAA)

Learn more about threats to our Earth:
Climate Change (NASA)
What is Ocean Acidification (NOAA)
Pacific Ocean takes perilous turn (Seattle Times)
Why biodiversity matters (Nature)

Environmentalism +
Environmental & Climate Justice (NAACP)
Feminism and environmentalism go hand in hand (Greenpeace)
Why Queer Liberation Is an Environmental Justice Issue (Earth Justice)
How to Unite the Fight for Racial Equity and Environmental Action (NRDC)

Kalyna Durbak
“Rock On!”

Going Green by Necessity

Written by GeekGirlCon Copywriter Sarah “SG-1” Grant

I don’t drive a lot anymore, which I’m finding very strange; I’ve been driving since I was 16, and had constant use of a car from the time I was 17 (with some exception during my first couple of years living on campus in college). About a year ago, my roommate/best friend got a much better job than the one I had, and it required the use of a car. So I put him on my insurance, and I got a bus pass through work. Since then, I drive the car perhaps once or twice per week, either to church in Kirkland or to the grocery store down the street (if I need more than I can comfortably carry up ten blocks of a very big hill).

I’ve discovered that I really enjoy riding the bus to work. All I have to do is show up at my bus stops on time, get on the correct bus, and get to work, get home, or get wherever else I’m going. All that riding time means I don’t have to pay attention to awful Seattle traffic, and I get to do the thing I love more than anything else: READ. If I don’t feel like reading, I just listen music on my phone. It takes the length of about a 50-60 minute album for me to get to work. It’s lovely sort of meditative time that I get to take for myself, and I don’t answer the phone in that time. I’ve grown to value it quite a bit.

I got my first car when I was in high school, one that I shared with my older brother, and used to run errands and ferry my younger sister around our hometown. It was a 1981 Chevrolet Chevette–no, not a Corvette, a Chevette, like this one, only a darker blue:

My very first car. Image source.

My very first car. Image source.

The front passenger seat had a disconcerting habit of flipping back, thereby introducing the front seat passenger abruptly to the back seat. We couldn’t do an under-body flush at the car wash, because there was a hole in the floor beneath the driver’s seat. Top speed uphill with anyone other than the driver in the car? 43 miles per hour. It shook like it was losing bolts anytime we approached 55 miles per hour. The radio only received the signal from the Milwaukee oldies station–and then only the music, not the lyrics. I loved that car.

My next car was a 1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais, purchased from its original owner in 1996 (again, a darker blue than this one):

My second car. Image source.

My second car. Image source.

It was a good little car, driving me back and forth from Wisconsin to Tennessee multiple times. It was replaced by a 1999 Saturn S series in Silver Plum (the dealer was VERY specific about the color, even though I called it “purple”)–the first car I ever bought at a dealership:

My "silver plum" Saturn. Image source.

My “silver plum” Saturn. Image source.

I loved that little car so much: it had good gas mileage, it was comfortable, it had a very respectable trunk space, and it saw me safely through a five-car pileup in Nashville. It was fixed, and ran like a top for another two and a half years before I sold it. I bought my first brand new car, my current 2005 Honda Civic, from a dealer in Milwaukee before I moved to Seattle:

My current, trusty Honda Civic. Image source.

My current, trusty Honda Civic. Image source.

It’s a fantastic car; it drives well, it parks easily (not too big, not too small), and it has the two things I told my dad I wanted at the time: a CD player and air conditioning. It also survived this little incident (with me driving) back in May:

IMAG0777

It was a rough Monday morning…

This is the car my roommate drives, and is the one I am now selling to him. And yes, we fixed the windshield.

I know that a lot of people don’t have cars, or have never had cars; I’m very aware of the privileges I’ve had in my life. I also know I’m lucky I live in an area with pretty good bus service, and that my company provides my bus pass every month. So while I went green out of necessity, it’s been a pretty positive change for me. I’m healthier from walking, I spend more time outside–which I’ve been told is good for people with depression. I also feel like I’m contributing to the success of our public transportation system, relieving a tiny bit of the nasty traffic in Seattle, and leaving my own mark on the world-wide effort to reduce climate change. Every little bit helps!

Would you switch to bus riding, if you could or had to? Let me know in the comments; I’ve love to hear your perspective!

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