Earth Day: forgotten child of holidays

Earth Day this year fell on April 22.  Admittedly, I had to search online to see whether Earth Day is the same day every year—and apparently, it is.  I wonder, why is this date not ingrained into my head—or many of our minds—as are religious holidays, anniversaries or birthdays?  I think it is because we do not receive gifts or a meal that is too big for our stomachs.  

I stopped paying attention to Earth Day once I left elementary school.  No one required me to remember the holiday, and my school never held any celebratory event.  Even my printed calendar that I hang on my wall (yes, I still have one of those) does not list April 22 as a holiday.  So, how did I know when Earth Day was happening this year?  My friend’s 21st birthday was the same day, and he happens to be an environmental enthusiast.

About two weeks ago, I had a conversation with a close friend, Zachary Matuch, ’17, about cool events and celebrities with whom we share our birthdays.  I am proud to say that I share my birthday with Dr. Seuss. Matuch was happy to say that he shares his birthday with Earth Day.  

Even after my conversation with Matuch, I still forgot that Earth Day was coming up.  On that day, a Friday afternoon, we sat around drinking mimosas to kick off his birthday celebration.  After he had a few drinks, someone jokingly asked him what was so special about that day.  His response was that it was Earth Day, which threw all of us off because we were expecting a smart comeback about it being his birthday.  None of us knew that it was Earth Day before he announced it.  Honestly, we were not even acting environmentally conscious that day.  We had all the lights turned on, music blasting and the air conditioner on when we could have easily cracked open a window.  The rest of the celebration led to tons of plastic cups and paper plates being usedwho knows if they actually got recycled or notand finished up with us taking the bus to and from the barsnot for environmental reasons, but safety.

So what is Earth Day?  It is a day that marks an event that I did not know even existedthe beginning of the modern environmental movement in 1970.  The point of the holiday every year is to take action to clean up the environment.  According to, the official website for Earth Day, one billion people celebrate the holiday every year.  I can only name one (Matuch) in my personal circle who knows about it.  Why is it that in America so few people seem to celebrate it? Perhaps because Earth Day is not a day for celebration in the sense of giving and receiving immediate gifts, but a day to work to make a difference for our environment.  Last time I checked, the words “work” and “holiday” do not go hand-in-hand.  

If more people paid attention to this holiday and worked toward the vision for which it exists, we would receive something in return, like we do during religious festivities or birthdays.  However, that return would not be seen on April 22, the same day, but would take years of work to show substantial progress to a healthier and more sustainable environment.  People just do not realize that the work is for their own benefit. Thus, the holiday does not receive the attention it deserves.