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Letter from Publisher: Honoring Earth Day after a Year of Covid

Mar 31, 2021 08:30AM ● By Bernice Butler
April 22 is Earth Day, which at Natural Awakenings, we celebrate the entire month. But this year—one year after its 50th anniversary—all signs say that it’s different, perhaps more poignant (or at least that’s how it feels to me when I lick my finger and stick it the air). It feels like popular support for environmental protection, public exhortations about the state of our planet, personal demonstrations of greenness and allegiance to sustainability are both more meaningful and more widespread.

Much of this enhanced awareness appears to be involuntary, born from the slowdown in our lives thrust upon us by the coronavirus. We’ve been forced to spend less time driving and more time outdoors as we navigate pandemic life in a way that doesn’t involve public buildings and the presence of other people. As well, many of us have sought to defend ourselves from the ravages of COVID-19 by strengthening our immune system. These new behaviors have taken us back to nature, just the way it was meant to be. Our instruction manual that’s held up strong for 2,000 years now, the Bible, has never let us down in its truths that God created humans and Earth to be symbiotic, that He placed upon this planet everything we need to survive and thrive, with us in dominion—but not domination—over them.

What’s amazing to me is that we’ve been celebrating the protection of our planet just once a year for only 50 years. Why shouldn’t we celebrate daily the fact that we get to see the sun come up and illuminate the world so we have the privilege of beholding the wonderful colors of nature and enjoying the light and warmth that literally nourishes our bodies? Maybe we could have a daily Earth Minute or Earthrise, just like we have a daily sunrise with a natural schedule published for everyone to know.

All this makes me ponder how to celebrate Earth Day 2021, after our collective experience of a year of pandemic. I think the answer is rooted in what we’ve learned, which is the real joy we should be celebrating this Earth Day. I’m joyful because these lessons have been almost universal. We may call them different names and realized them at different times, and some of us may not even realize that we’re thinking or behaving differently as a result.

Those lessons are about the cause and effect of things such as our health, clean air, how food actually can heal our bodies and how being outside in nature is just as relaxing and intoxicating as a glass of wine or a beer. We’re learning that our assault on the environment has a boomerang effect—when our actions degrade, defile or deplete the environment, it withholds its lifegiving and life-supporting properties—thus degrading, defiling and depleting our health.

I often hear the saying “If you’re good to it, it will be good to you,” typically applied to our hair or skin, our pets or our cars. Well, the past year has shown that this adage also applies to our planet. We’ve seen images and statistics about improved air quality around the world due to the fact that millions of people have been required to learn and work from home. Bicycles and exercise equipment were at one point sold out everywhere, and they’re still in great demand. Some popular parks and trails have had to devise crowd-control schemes. This is all good, so I’m going to celebrate this Earth Day by setting an intention to act on my pandemic lessons and continue the life- and planet-affirming behaviors I developed over the last year.  

In this month’s issue of Natural Awakenings, we hope to help you see the lessons, experience the joy and make the best of the collective, involuntary journey that we’ve all been on over the past “Earth Year”. In her article “The Human Cost of Climate Change,” Sandra Yeyati connects the dots between global warming and the impact on our health and everyday lives. That’s also the mission of our own Healthy Living Healthy Planet radio show, which is the subject of a feature article this month. We also offer some spring-cleaning advice, with articles on how to detox your home and body, as well as a feature on how and where to enjoy nature and wildlife as we move into the spring season and what is also hopefully the springtime near the end of the pandemic.

We trust there is something for everyone in this month’s issue; something that will ignite passion and fuel action so we can all live a healthier life on a healthy planet.

Blessings,

Until next month
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