Earth Day 2021: A Reflection
by Brooke Nowak, Vice President of People & Planet Programs
This Thursday, the world will come together to talk about our home, the home which nourishes, shelters, and sustains us. Our home, our planet, continues to change in ways neither expected nor wanted. And much like coronavirus, we are all united in that we are affected by this change. On this 51st anniversary of Earth Day, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the great work of so many who collectively have done so much to save our planet.
Every day, it seems like we wake up to another report about the dire situation the Earth is in. It is like a hit to the gut when you see the headlines of another species on the brink of extinction, or another unexpected disaster caused by the changing climate. We need to hear the reality because it is a crisis. But it can be overwhelming, especially when you compare how big the problem is with our own personal lives. We are all just one individual, and how could one person possibly make that much impact, whether good or bad? How can we change the situation, especially when we are all just trying to stay afloat in these ever busy and challenging times? I know I have felt that many times, and I even have the advantage of a career where I can partake in large scale positive change.
Being the eternal optimist, I have learned to recognize and take great satisfaction in the little things I do for my part in helping sustain Mother Earth in my personal life. Very few of us, if none at all, have the ability to significantly change the current trajectory of our planet with one single, very large action by one person. If we were that person, we would be a superhero. But if we all do lots of little actions, on our own, those little actions can become one really BIG action. Here are a few examples of what I mean:
- It was a lot of little actions that fed over one billion bees after Hurricane Michael ravaged the Florida Panhandle;
- It was a lot of little actions that has protected the homes of plant and animal life in 1,728,427 acres around the world;
- It was a lot of little actions that planted 33,130 trees around the world, trees that provide oxygen for life and homes for so many animals;
- It was a lot of little actions that provided protection, rescue, care, relocation and/or sanctuary to countless numbers of 20 different endangered species around the world;
- It was a lot of little actions that removed close to 19,000 lbs. of trash and plastic from our oceans;
- It was a lot of little actions that have recorded over 40,000 observation records of plant and animal life in one of Earth’s most biodiverse regions, actions that then allow for protections to be put in place to protect the biodiversity.
And do you know who made all these actions possible? It was you, our donors of Greater Good Charities, who made these things happen. And all of this was done in just a short window of time.
But there is still a lot to be done. Earth Day has five areas of focus for future efforts to restore the Earth, and Greater Good Charities currently has or supports projects within four of those focus areas. Through my time working on different People and Planet projects and with on the ground partners from around the world, I have found that the solution to protect nature needs to include the dynamics of people and their unique relationship to their immediate surroundings. We must ensure people, pets and nature are living together harmoniously because at the end of the day, humans need nature to exist. Consequently, I concentrate a lot of our organization’s conservation efforts on projects which work to bring that balance.
It is 2021, and we are all coming out of the largest pandemic and recession of recent years, one that has tested us on all levels of our being, including our wallets. We cannot always contribute a significant amount of money (even though we may want to), and so we must think about the little things, the same ones that bring me such great satisfaction, that can be done without having to overextend yourself. I encourage us all to integrate these steps in our daily lives through donating, volunteering, conserving resources, and reducing waste. We even have some ideas for everyday things you can do to make a difference here. Over time, suddenly, those little actions become a big action. We at Greater Good Charities strongly believe that when we all work together by taking small actions, we can make real and meaningful change for the world.