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The importance of Earth Day

An illustration of a green earth with trees growing along the perimeter. The words earth day are also present.

April 22 is just on the horizon and it will mark the 47th anniversary of Earth Day. The event has grown into a wold-wide phenomenon which, according to Earth Day Canada, is celebrated by over 200 million people in more than 140 countries around the globe.

An argument can be made that occasions like Earth Day, Earth Hour and other once-a-year “celebrations” are tokenism at best, as the idea of being concerned about the environment on just one day a year has only minimal impact. However, a yearly reminder of our need to commit to reducing our ecological footprint is more important than ever, given the recent changes that are taking place south of the border, where scientists are being muzzled and the protection of the environment is taking a back seat to business interests.

Every generation has a challenge that serves to define it and, with the implications of global warming already being felt around the planet, climate change is almost certainly the defining issue for our generation. There is compelling evidence that everything from droughts, famine, civil wars and world economic instability can be traced back to ecological upheavals of some sort.

Climate change is an issue that requires a world-wide response, and unions can play a crucial role in pushing governments and businesses towards a green transition. What better day than April 22 to reaffirm our commitment to a healthier and more sustainable future.

Over the past decade, OSSTF/FEESO has embraced our responsibilities as stewards of the environment and we have become a leader in the green union movement. Mobile Drive has hosted bee hives for almost a decade while our organization has introduced accounts and various supports to foster projects in our local Bargaining Units. We’ve also committed to off-set our carbon production at major meetings like AMPA. Most of these initiatives were incorporated long before they were seen as mainstream and popular.

This work has been enhanced by the creative and innovative actions being undertaken in each District across this province.

Local leaders and executives have a tremendous amount of work to do, and finding time to get to everything is often a challenge. We simply cannot give all initiatives the time and attention they deserve and this is understandable. Knowing this, lets challenge each other to use Earth Day this year (or April 21 since technically Earth Day falls on a Saturday) as the day that we pledge to look at our individual actions and make a commitment to change a few things to make our lives a little greener. As an extension to this, look through the various accounts available to support your locals in making changes at the District or Bargaining Unit level, and have a quick review of the updated Greening our Union document, all of which are available on the Federation web site.

About Glen Hodgson
Glen Hodgson is a teacher and is the president of District 4, Near North. He also sits on the Environmental Work Group.

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