Earth Day 2009 – Save the Cheerleader, Save the Planet

It is Earth Day again and it is once again time for Hanna’s Rant on Environmentalism. I have come to believe that over the years, it is no accident that the word “mental” appears in the word Environmental. I am continually annoyed and amazed at how we have just completely lost sight of what the whole point is of this. It seems to me that a large portion of the environmental movement these days has either lost all concept of sane behavior or is looking to make a fast buck off the process.

Case in point are the slogans attached to the environmental movement.

  • “Save the Planet”
  • “Earth Day”
  • “Go Green”

Listen, in case you missed it in your natural history classes or don’t have cable and therefore are never able to watch the Discovery Channel, Planet Earth is a pretty venerable old lady. The last thing she needs is an inept set of human beings stepping into “save her”. We could set off 100 nuclear weapons, and Planet Earth would recover just fine. Remember, mega volcanoes, massive asteroids, NKOTB. She came through just fine after those disasters. Shrugged it off and kept spinning.

Besides, who really wants to save an oversized rock? Sure we live on it, but to a generation who has their cult picks of Star Trek, Firefly, Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica, we know damn well we will be getting off this rock one day (which was made all the more real by the recent discovery of an Earth class planet.)

Nope, these namby pamby planet saving sayings just don’t get personal enough. We need more sayings like “Drive Small Cars to Save Our Own Asses” or “Clean Air — Because We Need to Breathe to Live”

I think we need to bring in our moms to help make sayings too. “There is a starving kid in Africa that would be happy to have that.” Or “I don’t care if everyone else is using chemicals on their lawns. Would you jump off a bridge if everybody doing that?” or how about “Turn off that damn light! Do you know how much that costs?!?”

Maybe they are a little way too over the top. That would probably be why I am not in advertising. The point is, we have to stop making this about saving the planet. Environmentalists need to stop being shocked when the average person is just not interested in saving a rock (I don’t care if you think it is something more than a rock and you have proof, most people see it as a rock).

They need to see it as making here (as in here, where I am at any given moment at any given time) a better place. I am not an environmentalist. I use reusable grocery bags not because I want to not fill up the landfill, but because it makes my house a less cluttered place. I frown at the lady up the street who brings in ChemLawn, not because I think it is bad for the planet, but because they put those little signs out saying it is not safe for my kids to play on. I walk a little more than I use to not because I am thinking I am reducing global warming (don’t even think it is a factor) but because my rear end is going to need rear view mirrors soon.

Environmentalists would get much farther if they figured out the WIIFM angle and sold the public on that. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is not about saving the planet, it is about helping (and maybe saving) ourselves (cheerleaders included).

12 thoughts on “Earth Day 2009 – Save the Cheerleader, Save the Planet
  1. So true. I think it’s all a big marketing ploy and a way for the people with “friends in high places” to make some big bucks off all us peons.

    I do things like: reduce my amount of consumption of goods, reduce garbage, use less water, reduce chemical use, because I feel like it makes me a responsible steward and because it’s good for me, not because it’s “green”.


  2. If people followed this advice (everyday is earth day), it would be easier for differing views to agree more. Not just on the environment, but the economy, global relations, raising kids, or whatever.


  3. Melanie on

    I don’t like WASTE….that’s why I recycle. Shaker Hts. has been recycling for close to 20 years now.
    I don’t like using chemicals on my lawn…it polutes and I worry about the little kids and pets in the neighborhood.
    I keep lights off when not in a room, I keep the thermostat low. This saves me MONEY.
    I spread the word about COMPOSTING and have actually gotten quite a few people to do it.
    I have great respect for MOTHER EARTH.
    Peace and love,


  4. I look forward to your Earth Day Rants every year! You hit the nail on the head. I was just thinking the other day how silly earth day seems these days. Where I work, a garden center, everyday is Earth Day!


  5. “Clean Air – Because We Need to Breathe to Live”

    That’s my favourite, and the one that hits closest to home for me. Screw money–it doesn’t mean anything. Car? I don’t have one. And all the electric and gas is included in the rent, so it doesn’t matter how much or little I use (although I try to conserve, ’cause, y’know, I just do).

    But being able to breathe? Oh hell yeah, I think people can understand that! It won’t matter how much water, money, electricity, or chemicals there are or aren’t if we all suffocate to death/die of cancer because of air pollutants.

    Also, I just got out of a Science Cafe on climate change, and it’s shocking how many people there abhorred the actual effort (however little) it takes to separate waste for recycling, despite their concern for the Earth.

    I don’t really consider myself an environmentalist–I’ve met people from Greenpeace, and I’m sorry, but they have sticks in orifices, not in the ground supporting sugar snap peas and tomatoes. I wish so-called environmentalists practiced what they preached!

    I look forward to checking out that podcast you’re in!


  6. Judy on

    Absolutely refreshing. All this political, hyped-up, “green” everything has me turning the TV channel at the word green. It’s so strange though that the people doing the promoting of hybrid cars, florescent light bulbs (what happens to THEM in the landfill?) are allowing fish farming to destroy the oceans, allowing cities & adjoining countries to dump sewage into the ocean, etc., etc. As “they” say, “talk is cheap” and some people “talk out of both sides of their mouths”. Maybe I don’t understand the concept but why did Colorado just get 36 inches of snow in the midst of global warming?
    Maybe it’s childish of me to want to do the right thing because I want to…not because some disengenuous politician tells me to. Sounds like I am an unhappy person, not so, in fact I’m looking forward to another day so I can count my tomato blossoms !


  7. ladyk73 on

    Agree agree agree….. Humans can change the Earth, but cannot destroy her. It just may be large grasshoppers growing tomatoes 500,000 years from now. I do beleive that global warning is happening, and I am all for doing what I can…

    However, I have a big pet peeve.

    Why does anyone think it is “green” to recycle when it involves a big stinky truck and a bunch on non-biogradable plastic bins?

    My city only recycles cans and certain plastics.

    I refuse to spend 15 minutes trying to clean a peanut butter jar. (wasting energy)

    Environmental accounting


  8. FINALLY, someone who gets it! I never hear anyone point out what you just did – that it is not about “Save The Earth”; it’s about “Save Ourselves”! I don’t think many people understand that there is such a limited range of temperature and air quality that humans can exist in…it would not take that much to throw things off far enough to create our own extinction!

    Keep up the good work, Hanna!


  9. Hm, interesting perspective. I don’t think there would be such a thing as “environmentalists” (whatever that means, anyway!, as well as people who dislike them, if everyone did a better job of not creating waste or polluting the world. We’ve got ourselves into a quite a fix here by being lazy and wanting convenience, not putting enough pressure on the biggest polluters, and putting off problems for the next generation(s) to deal with. We don’t have to go back to living in caves, but we do need to look a lot harder at our habits of consumption and how these are not going to be viable for much longer. Not using lawn chemicals and reusing bags and walking more are all great things, whatever your motivation.


  10. Great post! Very refreshing. It’s nice to see that somebody gets it, and that not everyone is a lemming…


  11. info on

    I’ve been enjoying what you have to say about gardens, but can’t hold in my confusion with this.

    If all you choose care about is people, protecting the systems that keep us alive is still important. It seems that all of you appreciate this, but still have tremendous scorn for people who work to maintain those systems. ‘Sustainability’ has become an empty buzzword, because it gets bandied about in obnoxious ways; That doesn’t change the meaning of the word itself which is basically,’possible to continue doing,’ or ‘not using resources faster than they can regenerate.’

    Why the hate?


    Hanna Reply:

    See Rant for 2010 for why this bugs me…

    And the rest comes from the fact that today’s “movement” does little to change how people interact with their environment. It just help sell more crap is all. As I said, it is not the planet we need to save, it is ourselves.


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