In honor of the holiday, I’m posting a column my dad wrote for the April 21, 2011 Denver Post. I have a cameo appearance, and I love my dad’s hilarious and true take on how we should celebrate the day.
Replace Earth Day with Binge Day
By Ed Quillen
The Denver Post
Earth Day is Friday, and as a loyal resident of Earth, I want to celebrate properly.
I may have already found the wrong way to celebrate. In 2003, I was invited to speak at an Earth Day rally in Alamosa. Being rather immodest, I accepted.
But my 170-mile round-trip drive must have damaged the ozone layer or accelerated global warming or otherwise worsened whatever we were worried about eight years ago. The gathering in Cole Park was pleasant, but there were generators growling and smoking to provide electricity for the amplifiers. This didn’t strike me as especially Earth-friendly.
And when my stage turn came, I followed Peggy Godfrey of Moffat, who’s a cowboy poet or cowgirl poetess. However you describe her, she’s a great performer. I felt like the local garage band that somehow ended up appearing after the Rolling Stones. Peggy is a hard act to follow.
This was clearly not an appropriate Earth Day commemoration for me. But what would be?
To find out, I called the greenest person I know, my daughter Abby in Eugene, Ore. She has a big garden and keeps chickens. She and her husband, Aaron, don’t own a car; Aaron bicycles 12 miles each way to his teaching job. Abby’s always on the lookout for local foods and gentler ways to run her household — for instance, she washes her long brown hair with vinegar instead of commercial shampoo.
(I should point out that we did not raise Abby to turn out this way, as we had a car but no chickens. It’s a choice she made after graduating with honors from the University of Colorado Denver with a degree in history.)
“So how do you plan to celebrate Earth Day?” I asked Abby, expecting to hear that she’d be at a big rally in a downtown Eugene park.
“I know some people who are driving clear up to Vancouver, B.C., for an Earth Day festival.” She laughed at that irony. “But for us, it will be pretty much the same as any other day. I’ll feed the chickens, gather eggs, tend the garden, take Ezra (their 3-year-old son) for a walk, hope he naps long enough for me to get some writing done — what I do most days.”
Abby’s got the right idea here: If you care about the environment, forget about Earth Day trips and celebrations, and live simply every day. When you think about it, focusing on the environment once a year doesn’t make much sense, especially when that celebration often involves burning a lot of fuel.
But there does seem to be a basic human need for annual celebrations, and to that end I propose a yearly Binge Day.
On the other 364 days of the year, we would live simple green lives with local food and drink. We would walk, bicycle or ride public transit to get around. We would eschew gaudy imported novelties, fad electronics destined for quick obsolescence and other trashy food, goods and geegaws.
In other words, we would live prudently and sensibly, following adages like “Waste not, want not.” The global economy might contract on that account, but it seems to be doing that anyway.
On Binge Day, though, we could pig out on champagne and corn-fed prime rib. We’d rent a Hummer or an Escalade to drive to the shopping mall for an orgy of conspicuous consumption. We’d ignore the recycling bins and just toss our abundant trash in a barrel. And after the once-a-year Binge Day blowout, we’d go back to living sensibly.
Add it up, and Binge Day should be about 364 times better for the environment than Earth Day.
I’m editing an anthology of my dad’s columns. To find out more about it, visit edquillen.com. How are you celebrating Earth Day? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!