I know this might be overload on the Mini-Di… but this one has to be today, since it’s Earth Day.
Here’s what Dilovely journaled in honour or Earth Day, 1990 (age 11, almost 12):
When I got home I told N [my best childhood friend – about the idea to go litter-picking]. She thought it was a good idea (especially when I mentioned we could go to Mac’s) and we got plastic bags and set off. (My bags were biodegradable.) Our first litter was at the entrance to the woods. I carried a bag for recyclables, and N carried a bag for trash. We picked our way up to the opening, and went along, filling our bags.
Then came the young idiot-nincompoops. A bunch of boys, about our age, passed us. They said, “It’s the garbage-pickers! Look at them!” One spit out his gum and said, “Here’s something else. You gotta pick it up, it’s Earth Day.” I’m surprised he even knew. Those guys belong in N’s bag – they’re not even good enough to be recycled. They were darn rude. Oh, well, some things you can’t expect guys not to do. At that age, counter effort is a big thing. [!! Future teacher, perhaps?]
Before we got to Mac’s, N had emptied her bag twice, and filled it again, and my bag was about to overflow. We dropped them off at Hendry Lane so we could pick them up later. At Mac’s, for 43c I got a Popsicle and a whip of licorice. N got gum and a Crunchie and Starburst (one of which she gave me) and I don’t know what. She was happy. Junk food does that for her.
That evening we watched an Earth Day special on TV. It was about Mother Earth, as a person, dying. Everyone was scared and trying to help, except some bad people. People gave speeches about energy and pollution and litter and planting trees and flowers, and saving water, etc. It was good. At one part, the proffesser [sic] from Back to the Future showed some people a film of ghastly clips of pollution and dumping and oil spills. The one I thought most horrible was the one with skyscrapers with their lights on that you could hardly see because of the ugly brown smog. And someone said, “So this is what the future will be like?” and he said, “No, my friend, this is the present!” Awful! [I still remember this image. It made a big impression on me.]
That night I was all gung-ho and rip-roaring to conserve. But all that enthusiasm – well, not all of it, but quite a bit – was gone today and yesterday. And what about all those people who don’t care or even know? What about people who try to be contrary, like those guys? What will they do to the rest of us?
Naturally, I’m wondering what my 11-year-old self would think of the way things are going. These days, there is a lot of talk about the environment, and there have been some amazing innovations and initiatives that I count as positive progress for “Mother Earth”. Maybe Mini-Di would be impressed by those… but I think she might be disappointed that even now, more individual people don’t take conservation and sustainability seriously.
Twenty years sounds like a very long time when you’re eleven – like an amount of time in which you could turn everything around and do miraculous things – and we haven’t done that. Why haven’t we? Why don’t we have our act together better? If we could be suddenly face-to-face with angry, high-minded pre-teens from twenty years ago, what would we have to say for ourselves? What would I have to say for myself and to myself?
3 thoughts on “From the Pages of Mini-Di, Earth Day Edition”
Ok, well, I commend you for posting something on such a depressing topic that is nonetheless SO HILARIOUS!
“Those guys belong in N’s bag.”
“She was happy. Junk food does that for her.”
Mini-you is SO GREAT.
Twenty years is a frickin long time and I can’t believe that long ago was 1990. That was the year I went to the Environmental Youth Alliance conference in Ottawa and saw David Suzuki and Raffi (EYA, EYA, youth united in an earthly way! Unh, ungawa! You’ve got the powah! Rally for the earth with the EYA!). I was old enough to be impressed by both of them – and even to understand those who were gossiping about how Suzuki had supposedly been paid a huge fee for appearing (who knows the true details, though). He was impassioned and not without hope but basically saying WE HAVE TO CHANGE NOW!!!!! and it seemed that it was already too late.
Twenty years later, I still think of that conference and how it’s almost too late. The good news is that a lot HAS changed, and the environment is way more in the public eye than it was then. The bad news is that it’s still almost too late… or definitely too late in some ways…
And stupid boys still litter. I don’t get it and never will.
Maybe things are changing… at least a little. Today I escorted 25 nine and ten year olds (aka my class) along a piece of the Elora-Cataract Trail near our school. We picked up garbage (3 bags plus a bunch of corrugated green plastic that used to be part of a tree fort) and a full bin of recycling. First hopeful sign of change…. this is less garbage than my class picked up in the same section last year or the year before… could people be littering less?? Second hopeful sign of change…. these boys (and girls in my class) don’t litter and are learning to be stewards of the earth. Maybe change comes, not just when we work for it, but when we raise another generation to work for change too.
I agree totally. The last couple years, on Earth Day, I’ve suspended French class so that we could talk about it, and I have been impressed by how much knowledge some of these kids have. And I know the Earth Keepers program by school board is a great one – it’s just that lots of kids/schools can’t afford it. Krista, I’m glad to think of teachers like you who are raising your classes right! 🙂