A simple Earth Day in Israel

I remember my first Earth Day experience.

It was 10th grade and someone came up with the idea to boycott styrofoam.

The lunch room, of course, used styrofoam trays. And despite the efforts of a few forward thinking, future activists, the school administration refused to reconsider this earth-unfriendly decision.

So the students revolted. At a coordinated time in the afternoon, which happened to fall in the middle of Biology class, we watched the minute hand move slowly towards the 3. At 1:15 pm precisely, a handful of us stood up (after confirming with our eyes that we wouldn’t back out) and walked out of the classroom to the grassy field in front of the school.

We stayed there — despite warnings from the hall monitors and the lunch aides– shouting “No more styrofoam! Heal our Earth!” (or something powerfully catchy like that.) When the bell rang for the next period, I headed to Spanish class. And that concluded my career as a teenage environmental activist. This minor act was the only rebellious thing I did in my entire high school career. And I regret that. I should have staged more walk-outs or at least pierced more extremities.

Nothing changed in the lunchroom after the protest; not at least during my four years at Cherry Hill High School East.  The styrofoam trays hung around  — long after our protests. I bet they’re still hanging around… in a dump somewhere.

20 years later, I hope someone’s wised up and reinstated washable, reusable trays. Even wiser would be to bring your own lunch considering trans fatty french fries and carcinogenic hot dogs are still the stars of the lunchroom and that school lunches are linked with obesity. But I digress.

20 years later, I’m still the good girl I was in high school.

I can’t help myself.

The most rebellious act I’ll be pulling on this upcoming Earth Day, Monday, April 22 is blogging about other people’s trash.

Or picking some up.

Frankly, that’s better than doing nothing, which is what most people will opt to do on Monday.

Nothing.

Earth Day, for most, is just another piece of colored in line-art in a child’s backpack. It’s just another front page feature in Parade Magazine. It’s a photo op.

Surely, some will visit an eco-themed art exhibit or see an eco-film. Some might even take part in a small protest like I did once upon a time.

Not me.

I propose we all do something simple on Monday.

Pick up a piece of trash. Someone else’s trash.

Put it in the proper receptacle — paper with paper. Plastic with plastic. Food stuff in a compost pile.

This one simple act doesn’t require group think. Or a ticket stub.

Just you.

Pick up some trash.

If you want to take one extra step, consider not buying anything on Monday that’s meant to be thrown away.

And stop throwing stuff away. Keep it. Reuse it. Pass it on.

Teach your kids all of the above.

Make Earth Day simple this year.

Be a lone activist … and see how even a quiet, obedient good girl (or boy) can make a difference.

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4 thoughts on “A simple Earth Day in Israel

  1. First of all, I’m impressed with your memories from high school (which I practically have so few of!). Secondly, wonderful idea. Why not have someone translate this message into Hebrew and send it out to the yishuv? Why not suggest it to the teachers at the gan (when the kids go on their daily walk)? Why not suggest it to the soccer coach before the Monday evening practice? If you can spread your words to others, who will then in turn, guide the children, I believe your mission will have that much more of a chance of becoming accomplished.

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    • Those are great ideas, Shira. I think that part of what stops people (me, included) from being in action around environmental issues is the feeling that it’s all so overwhelming. For me, the idea of doing something simple, just one thing on my own, feels manageable — which is what I’m really craving in my life right now. It’s a way to be a part of something, alone. 🙂

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  2. I enjoyed your memories too. There are many people who have been in similar situations and done nothing, so even protesting once marks you out as a relative activist. You have every reason to be proud of yourself;

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  3. Small steps add up to big movements! I remember celebrating Earth Day as a kid with my mom, sister and maybe 1-2 friends, picking up trash along the road. It wasn’t a hugely organized event, and we were surely the only people in our small town doing anything, but it left a lasting impression on me. You never know who you’ll inspire with your trash cleanup, or your blog post!

    And I still want to do the pen pals thing, if you’re down! Send your info to my email: misscorinne at gmail dot com.

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