Mon April 22, 2013

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Earth Day: A Time to Reflect, a Time to Act

By Mattias Wallander | CEO, USAgain
Originally Published April 22, 2013 on The Huffington Post

Earth Day is a celebration of the unique hospitability of our planet. Mattias Wallander, CEO of USAgain, urges you to take some time out of your day to recognize the Earth’s beauty. Read the original story.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the tasks of everyday life and forget about the breathtaking wonder of the Earth. The planet we inhabit is a living, breathing entity. It is an incubator of life, beauty and prosperity, hurtling in orbit through a cold, frozen universe that is much the opposite.

It’s also far too easy to forget how our entire existence is tied to the Earth. Preserving the planet isn’t a Good Samaritan job to keep the Earth aesthetically wonderful—visual beauty is part of it, yes, but “saving the Earth” is a bit of a misconception. The Earth will continue to exist in some form no matter what we do to it—it’s US, the people of the Earth, who need a clean and temperate planet to survive. It’s not so much saving the Earth as it is saving ourselves.

Earth Day serves to remind all of us of Earth’s incredible, yet fragile capacity to sustain life and wondrous visual beauty. Since 1970, Earth Day has been observed in the U.S. and throughout the world every April 22.

As the saying goes, it’s been history ever since. Hundreds of millions of people and nearly 200 countries across the globe now celebrate Earth Day.

The spirit of Earth Day comes in two forms; it is a time to reflect on the wonder of the Earth and a call to action. For reflecting purposes, I urge you to watch HOME, a visually stunning film on Earth’s beauty by French filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand. The trailer is available on YouTube, as is the full film in high definition.

When it comes to action, the responsibility to act falls on all of us: businesses, governments, communities and individuals. Earth Day Network, an organization coordinating Earth Day planning, develops yearly programs and action plans to be taken for the betterment of our planet.

The Canopy Project, a worldwide tree-planting initiative, is one of this year’s notable programs. The project isn’t a focus on large scale forestry—it’s a local program where trees will be planted in impoverished communities throughout the world to reverse the impacts of land degradation and provide food, shelter, income and environmental sustainability. A tree will be planted for every dollar donated.

We at USAgain consider every day of the year a good time to take action, but Earth Day really brings out our green spirit. This April, we held Prom Goes Green, a giveaway of prom dresses to high school girls in the Chicago area. The dresses, all in gently used or like-new condition, were given to students, and with them, the message of reusing and recycling clothing instead of letting it go to waste. We’re also planting trees in Missouri and Minnesota, and we sponsored the painting of a city bus at St. Louis Earth Day Festival.

Taking action is necessary if our Earth is to continue its impressive run of sustaining life. In a universe so lifeless, life and growth should not be taken for granted—doing so is akin to taking your own life for granted, as blunt as it may sound. Keeping the Earth livable is a task for which all must lend a hand, whether it’s the mighty hand of government or the smaller, just-as-important hands of our homes and communities. In doing so, we maintain the Earth’s awe-inspiring beauty and resplendency, but most importantly, its habitability.

Follow Mattias Wallander on Twitter: @MattiasWall