Since 1970, Earth has had one special day a year when we take a moment and really think about our planet—through demonstrations, fundraisers, volunteering, river cleanups, and other means of generally bringing our environment front and center.
It was Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin, who came up with the idea of creating a “national teach-in on the environment” and, with a team led by environmental activist Denis Hayes, built the momentum so that on that first Earth Day, 20 million Americans took to the streets to peacefully demonstrate, protest, and call attention to our environmental problems.
In many ways, we’ve made progress since then. In even more ways, our environmental woes have grown worse. But one thing hasn’t changed: Without Earth, none of us would be here; none of us could survive.
That’s why I wanted to make an addition to the tradition of Earth Day and create the #EarthGratitude Wave. In the way Thanksgiving in America celebrates our connection to each other, I wanted there to be a global moment—like a wave across the planet—that celebrates our connection to and dependence on the earth.
No need to take to the streets. No need to protest or make a poster. The only thing you need to do today to participate is to say thank you. And if you share that thank you on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the hashtag #EarthGratitude, that’ll be even better. But it’s OK if you just say it to yourself. After all, we know the power of gratitude is infinite, even though our own time on Earth is finite.
We all have an opportunity to leave the earth better off, which starts with the intention to do so, and that starts with appreciating what we have.
Here are 10 things not a single one of us (no matter our political beliefs, religion, or nationality) could live without that come from the earth:
1. Oxygen: Much of the oxygen we breathe is produced by trees. So actually, we also need…
2. Trees: Because they create air for us to breathe. And shade. Shade is nice.
3. Water: Without water, we would be dry, brittle bones and dust, and the earth would be a desert.
4. Soil: Without healthy soil, we couldn’t grow food.
5. Food: Without food, we would all starve.
6. Fuel: Fuel is complicated—be it oil, coal, wood, dung, peat, sun—without it, we would be cold (unless we all moved nearer to the equator), we couldn’t cook our food, and we would be limited in our travels. Fuel is good. Fuel comes from the earth (except for what comes from the sun, for which I am also very, very, very grateful).
7. Rocks/wood/mud/stones for shelter: We could all go back to living in caves, but it would be tight quarters and we might not all get along. Oh, wait; even with our own homes, we don’t all get along! Well, at least we stay dry in a storm.
8. Fiber: Whether it’s cotton, leather, polyester, or spandex (which come from earthly sources, too) we would be walking around naked and cold, and there would be no shopping or fashion business.
9. Paper: While paper has recently been under attack by the tech business, there’s still nothing better for sharing knowledge. Without the education that paper brings into our lives, we would have much bigger problems than what to eat. History “officially” began when we started writing things down. So paper’s what helps keep each generation from having to start from scratch. Think about it, 1,000 years from now, an iPhone and all the data on it might be completely useless to an archeologist. However, a simple handwritten journal (if well preserved) can tell the story and solve the mysteries of our time.
10. Pleasures: Let’s face it, many (not all!) of life’s greatest pleasures come from Earth: chocolate, oysters, coffee, your favorite alcoholic drink, cashmere, sugar and spice, and lots of things nice. Without many of our simple pleasures, life would be considerably less interesting. Let’s not take a single thing for granted! Even our own stubborn brains and our ability to think, argue, create, and dream…and our tender hearts, which all crave love…all are dependent on the earth.
So, thank you, Earth! I am grateful for all of it! #Earthgratitude!