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Earth Day is this weekend and after many years of doing very little to celebrate it, I will challenge myself that day and in the future to care more about what it means. But not just to care. To act. As a little kid, I went through a Save the World Recycle Save the Animals Make Love Not War etc. phase. I made little signs with some of these phrases and put them on my wall; I put pins on my backpack; I “bought” an acre of rainforest for a year after reading a lot about it in nature magazines; I papermached a kleenex box and made it a plant pot holder; I loved going to the recycling center with my dad and seeing huge piles of glass, separated by color. Did I change the world? Maybe not, but I was actively thinking about these things and as passionate about them as I could be at age 10. I didn’t fully understand a lot of these causes, but I wanted to, and it’s futile to try to “change the world” when that is such an abstract intention in the first place. Just “change” is a good start.

Unfortunately, I lost some of that early activism, even though I am still conscious about many of the same causes. Nowadays, I am more educated, but less active, and I really want to change that. This Earth Day, Ian and I are going to curb our electricity consumption. I won’t say that we are “not going to use electricity” because it wouldn’t be true. We aren’t going to unplug the fridge just on principle, and consequently, spoil all of the food in it. What we will do is:

Not turn on any lights, and use candles at night if necessary
No TV, radio, microwave, washing machine, etc.
Unplug power strips to things we aren’t using, because even if you are not watching tv, it is still using a small amount of energy when plugged in
No computer, unless it is on battery power (which means computer use will be allowed, but limited)

I have no lofty thoughts of this having a huge impact on the world, but it’s about small change and change within oneself. I want to feel what it is to live without these things we take for granted, even though I am blessed to know that the next day I can use them. In the grand scheme of things, we will be sacrificing very little, because we know all of these appliances will be waiting for us, but I hope that it makes us more conscious about our energy use and what we can do every single day. I think that’s what Earth Day and many holidays are about: celebrating something on a particular day, but also as a reminder to be conscious of whatever you are celebrating beyond that day. Even though many holidays are commercialized and overdone, for me, they remind me to think. On Valentine’s Day, I think more about the loved ones in my life, and birthdays serve a similar purpose.

If you look at many events in history, growth of companies, major court decisions, most begin with baby steps. Every time I watch All the President’s Men, I get goosebumps just thinking about all of the little pieces that led to Nixon resigning. Starbuck’s and McDonald’s both started out as a single entity, a dream or passion, and turned into what they are today, for better or worse. Environmental change is made the same way, step by step, and hopefully these steps can speed up soon before we can’t make them at all.