“People who plant trees, knowing that they will not sit in their shade, have at least begun to understand the meaning of life.” –Rabindranath Tagor
By Betsey Burgdorf
With Mother Earth at its peak, Earth Day has a special meaning.
Many clubs, organizations and individuals will celebrate Earth Day, Friday, April 22, 2022, with celebrations, community cleaning of parks and public areas, and thoughtful efforts to reduce waste.
Teachers and students at Union Charter School at Morris Township will spend Earth Day like any other — focusing on living a sustainable life. One of the goals of the free school is to respect the planet by teaching sustainability, which is incorporated into their daily activities and lessons.
I found Unity Charter School while looking through MorristownGreen.com’s calendar of events; school is planning a shoe trip. I have a lot of shoes, most of which I don’t wear, and they need to be recycled. I thought it was a unique request and I’m happy to donate.
After visiting the Unity site to research more about shoe drives, I realized how unique this school is. The Board of Trustees opens each meeting with the following reading: “As we come here today, let us remember that we are working for the future of our children and the planet: The only place in the entire known universe where there is life. Our actions today affect our home planet; may we remember this.”
With our society creating waste at an alarming rate, it is imperative to teach sustainable lifestyles when children are young. Staff and students at Unity take pride in growing their own food in the school’s organic teaching garden. The kitchen highlights fresh, seasonal vegetables grown in the garden for students to try.
Food is served family style with gluten free, vegetarian and even vegan options. Teaching this lifestyle since the 3rd grade of elementary school is a new paradigm for public school education and a sustainable future.
Rooted in the principles of sustainability, Unity Charter School is sourced from local farms, and uses ceramic tableware, cloth napkins and tablecloths, and stainless steel utensils to minimize waste.
According to the school’s website, leftover food is dumped into compost buckets to be used as fertilizer in Unity’s gardens, helping to strengthen Unity’s mission for a more sustainable earth.
Earth Day was founded in 1970 by a Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, which was partly inspired by the anti-Vietnamese war protests and wanted to inspire the same level of activism against environmental destruction.
Five decades later, Earth Day has become a global event that raises awareness about ecological issues including deforestation and global warming—byproducts of a thriving global waste-generating community.
According to the federal Environmental Production Agency, the average American produces six pounds of waste per day. Multiply that by seven days a week and it starts to pile up. No country produces as much waste as America, but Russia is not far behind. Brazil, Japan, China, India and Germany also produce high amounts of waste.
Waste management is becoming an international issue, and will require global cooperation, the EPA predicts. We had a hard time negotiating what was wanted internationally. Can you imagine the smell of dealing with trash?
To do its part in eliminating waste, New Jersey will ban single-use plastic tote bags and polystyrene foam food service products starting May 4, 2022. Non-recyclable bags are so light that they can be carried for miles, landed along highways, and in rural areas where they litter and get caught in branches in where they stay blown off. wind for years. This ban is a small step in the right direction.
Mother Earth will receive a spring make-over on Earth Day. Garbage, leaves, and stems will be thrown away — making way for the desperate spring flowers to stretch their petals toward the sun.
Earth will be ready for a seasonal show featuring blooming flowers in a variety of colors including pink, blue and purple. Shades of green ranging from fern to emerald and forest green fill the gaps making for the most spectacular time of year.
This planet is the only thing we all have in common. Even the smallest reduction in extravagant daily habits can have a positive impact. By making these changes, we can all begin to make a difference.
Let’s bring the momentum to save Mother Earth after April 22 so that future generations can enjoy its beauty and splendor.
Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.