Earth Day’s spirit a year-round must

Published 4:11 pm Wednesday, April 23, 2014

While wearing green may be most associated with St. Patrick’s Day, going green is a big part of Earth Day, which was celebrated globally yesterday.

Earth Day began more than 40 years ago and has grown from a few isolated celebrations in population centers to a worldwide celebration of the various gifts from the earth and the ways we can conserve them. Activities often focus on getting children to realize the importance of green living, and several local libraries hosted related activities Tuesday. L’Observateur even published a special Earth Day section Saturday with a coloring contest for children in the River Parishes inside.

While such activities certainly do much to raise awareness about Earth Day, they are not enough on their own. The behaviors encouraged through Earth Day activities — recycling, reforestation and conservation — must be maintained the other 364 days of the year.

That is why loving the earth must start at home. Children learn by example. Children who are taught to recycle become adults who recycle. Children who are encouraged to take shorter showers keep that behavior throughout their lives. Even special projects, such as setting up a compost heap or a system for collecting rainwater, can show youth that caring for the earth is worth a little extra effort.

In the decades since Earth Day’s inception, awareness has grown but pollution problems and environmental disasters persist. Here in south Louisiana, we need look no farther than our coastline or the sinkhole in Assumption Parish for proof of that. It will only be through combined actions, not rhetoric, that true and lasting progress can be made.