Skip to content

EDITORIAL: Earth Day slays

As we recognize Earth Day, we all must commit to fighting climate change as inclusively and as forcefully as possible

Earth Day must be a time to commit ourselves to fighting climate change and being conscious of our own actions.  – Photo by Nikola Jovanovic / Unsplash

Today we are all celebrating Earth Day. Established in 1970, Earth Day demonstrates a collective commitment to defending the environment. Originally based in the U.S., Earth Day has expanded and has become a global phenomenon. Many people celebrate Earth Day by taking actions that are environmentally conscious and focus on building a sustainable future.

This is a good, productive holiday — it is symbolic while also promoting action, a duality that is usually not the case. Earth Day centers the environment by making us realize and reflect upon our impact.

Several organizations at Rutgers have held events to bring attention to environmental issues and to give students an opportunity to take action — by prioritizing both awareness and action, the organizations are living up to the entire essence of Earth Day. 

The Rutgers Students for Environmental Awareness, for example, are leading a walk to Boyd Park in New Brunswick where they will be hosting an “Earth Day Cleanup.” This event will have participants pick up trash and then learn about watershed issues and what we all can do to make improvements to our local environment.

So much of American culture is based on individualism which, in turn, minimizes the community and what can happen when people come together. These types of events are also good because they show the importance and the possibility of collective organizing. When we come together, things can change.  

That lack of community orientation can almost create a feeling of paralysis — people do not believe that their actions matter. But as Earth Day events show, simple things that we can do, especially when we do them as part of a larger network of people, can have widespread positive effects. 

While it is good to be aware of our individual actions and to participate in events that prioritize what we as individuals can do, for Earth Day to be even more successful, institutions must be held accountable. If they remain unchecked and continue their absolutely harmful practices, any change that an individual can make will really not make that much of a difference.

Corporations have a history of parading their apparent commitments to sustainability, while not really making change. Earth Day provides them yet another opportunity to make a show of supporting the environment while not accepting full responsibility or reacting proactively to the public's demands.

Although corporations always intend to make profit, they are not alone in trying to profit from sustainability. Earth Day might provide a platform for people who claim to be sustainable but really see a chance to make money. This has become especially evident as eco-influencers appropriate sustainability methods that have been around and used for centuries by indigenous and non-Western cultures.

Banana leaves, for example, have been used to eat out of, as they are biodegradable and sustainable. As we become more aware of such sustainable methods, it is imperative to always give credit to and duly acknowledge where we get ideas for sustainability from. Earth Day has become a global phenomenon — we must not whitewash it.

Sustainability has to incorporate methods from all people, especially Indigenous and non-Western communities. But it must be done in a way where people are given the proper credit, and no one is taken advantage of.

It is important to continue organizing and making individual changes and efforts. But, we can do these things in a more efficient way: instead of broad, expansive protests or slogans, we need to be specific in our demands. While protesting for the environment is necessary work, we must underscore specificity in protesting.

Particularity in our protests can enact actual change. Protests and climate strikes at Rutgers centered steps the University can take, such as our carbon emissions. Such an emphasis on issues Rutgers is responsible for, led to a set of goals that the University could tangibly address.

While the University has moved toward addressing these goals, namely through the Office of Climate Action, Rutgers still needs to do a lot more in terms of becoming more eco-friendly, especially with the buses. Buses are vital to many Rutgers students, and they should be made to be less harmful to the environment.

We must continue taking our commitments to climate change seriously. If we act now, we can change the institutions in which we exist and contribute to a greener future. 

We must never feel defeated or as if we cannot accomplish things. If we work together and if we focus on changing the things we have power over, anything is possible. Let us make Earth Day not just a singular day but a mode of living: when we center the Earth and the environment, we will make the culture of the University and daily life more sustainable. 

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 154th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

Related Articles


Join our newsletterSubscribe