Monday, April 19, 2010

Rant #236: Happy Earth Day To You

Earth Day is Thursday, April 22. This will be, I believe, the 40th anniversary of the original Earth Day, which was held in 1970.

We seem to go through cycles when it comes to being environmentally friendly to our planet.

The hippies and counter culture brought this to the fore way back in 1970, and those hippies have all grown up now, but a new generation is bringing what is now called "greening" to our attention today.

The premise is the same today as it was 40 years ago: we have only one planet, let's not ruin it any further than we already have. Let's be environmentally conscious of what we are doing, and for those tasks that are not earth friendly, let's change them to make them so.

It's a good idea, but to put it into practice is not as easy. Even on the personal front, it takes a long time to unlearn learned behavior. If you have thrown little pieces of garbage out the window of your car since day one--such as gum wrappers, used cigarettes, etc.--it is hard to learn to throw those away in the proper receptacle.

It is also hard to learn to keep your bottles and cans so that you can turn them into your local supermarket for recycling, and the same thing goes for old newspapers.

I remember the first Earth Day, not because it sparked my interest in preserving the environment, but because of what myself and a friend of mine did that day.

I believe the first Earth Day was on a Saturday, or at least we had off on the first Earth Day (maybe it was the Easter break or something like that). I was 13, still living in Queens, it was right before my birthday and bar mitzvah, and my friend and I took the bus into downtown Jamaica, which was a bustling retail area then.

He had heard about an "underground" bookstore--you know, the ones that sold books about pot and had lots of nudie magazines, as well as X-rated comic books--and since we were both into comics, this store had old ones we could buy.

So we trekked into Jamaica, went to the bookstore (I don't remember the name), and looked around amongst potheads, hippies, and other curious people.

It was an eye-opener. I saw my first Fritz the Cat comic book, and even though I didn't buy it, it was a revelation--not every book had Superman in it, and not every woman in the comic books felt the need to have clothes on.

Oh well, it is a childhood memory I still cherish.

But funny, most of the people who would frequent such a store were probably into ecology, spearheading this movement way back when.

Now, those people are at least in their early 60s, if they survived that time. I wonder if they are still into ecology, or if they have left the movement to their children and grandchildren.

And what did I buy that day? I don't remember, but the memory of the day has far outlived the need for me to remember what I bought from that store.

Have a happy Earth Day!

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