Letter to the editor

Dylan Juza

Today is Earth Day, and as Google honors significant dates via their search engine, I was able to take a quiz on what animal I was. I got squid, but what does this have to do Earth Day? That confusion persisted as I took part in the Earth Day Festival on campus, where I could spin the Wheel of Sustainability, answer trivia, take a pledge to turn off appliances when not in use and be entered to win a ‘green basket.’ Oh goody, I could possibly win a basket of organic chips, locally made salsa and a water canister! How does winning prizes reflect my appreciation for the earth? According to worldhistoryproject.org, on April 22, 1970, Sen. Gaylord promoted the first Earth Day in America in which he called students to oppose environmental degradation as they opposed the war in Vietnam. In the year 2015, we’re given incentives to care only if the environment caters to our values and way of life, which happens to be general apathy toward anything that doesn’t have to do with luxury and ourselves. The Wheel of Sustainability informed me on things like what food miles and single stream recycling are, how much water is produced to make a pair of blue jeans, all things that when a person realizes, only helps to immunize them from caring. It advocated for shorter showers, to shut the faucet off while brushing our teeth and to use reusable water bottles. According to an NBC News article America’s Dwindling Water Supply in 2010, America holds the lead in average water use per day per person. If we want to keep this precious resource around, I think we need to do more than shorter showers. Currently circulating on social media is a video titled ‘Dear Future Generations: Sorry’ by Prince Ea, which shows that we need to seriously reconsider our priorities, such as rain forests being destroyed for first-world profits. Furthermore, the idea of deep ecology first promoted by Arne Naess in 1973 distinguishes between valuing the earth and sustainability. In other words, shallow ecology, valuing the economy. That brings a different question: Are people willing to change their way of life? Are we willing to go without using dishwashers, laundry machines, daily showers or electricity? Are we willing to give up our vehicles? We need to stop accepting our capitalist American way of life as not just the highest good, but also as the only way of life. One thing keeping people from changing is that change is hard. Well, watching the earth suffer might be a lot more difficult. Earth Day shouldn’t be just one day, especially a day for winning prizes and finding out about how I can continue my American lifestyle the environmentally safe way. Earth Day is every day and whether we would like to acknowledge that or not is not up to us. This is important for Oshkosh students to be aware of. We already are citizens who can make a difference in our community. Do we want to become stuck in our ways or would we be willing to change to help our planet earth? When we become parents, what kind of future do we desire for our children and the generations to come? As we graduate and find ourselves in positions like the CEO of a company, when it comes to pollution and profits, what will we decide? Academia is founded on deep questioning, truth seeking and eliminating human suffering. I have come into contact with many professors who advocate a change in values to save the planet. The problem we are facing will get worse with ignorance, and human suffering will grow more prevalent. Earth Day is every day because this problem needs our constant attention.