Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Pete Fehrenbach of industry journal Waste News summed up his feelings on Earth Day yesterday in his typical sarcastic yet hopeful way. I tend to agree with much of what he says - about the greenwashing of everything, and of the 'gloomers-on' coming out in force this year, but I too am hopeful, nay, confident, that the world is moving in the right direction. Happy Earth Day (a day late)!

Waste News editorial follows:

Hello, Inboxers. I hope everyone received a lot of nice Earth Day presents this morning.

Seriously, sort of, the Big Day is upon us. Not just upon us, but all over us, through and through us, in one end and gurgling around and getting ready to jump straight back out the hole it came in from. Here at Waste News we have been so inundated with stuff about Earth Day that we´re all ... if I were in a diplomatic mood I´d say we´re numb to it. But frankly this deluge has brought on an acute case of ad-nauseam nausea. And that, friends, feels nothing like numb. Numb would be a welcome change for the better.

A colleague who requested anonymity -- his initials may or may not be JT -- suggested this idea for a column headline today: "I Hate Earth Day -- There, I Said It."

I don´t hate Earth Day. I just wish the event produced a higher percentage of genuinely useful ideas and a lower percentage of me-too glomming-on. The glommers-on are out in force this year like never before, and it may be months before my e-mail "reading" routine recovers. I wonder how many good ideas I´ve accidentally deleted whilst wading through the daily flood.

(The state of spam-blocking software deeply disappoints me. Some day some young e-geek is going to invent a sophisticated, user-nonhostile spam-blocking program, and he or she will be buying a mansion in Bill Gates´ neighborhood in no time.)

This annually growing throng of Earth Day bandwagonistas remind of the people -- we all know someone like this -- whose hearts grow three sizes on Christmas, then shrink back to normal size for the rest of the year. Let´s make Earth Day every day.

Funny, in the end I think the glommers-on serve a useful purpose. They pile up a critical mass of white media noise that actually helps nudge society -- industry, consumers, all of us -- up the green mountain we´re slowly climbing.

At the summit, I think, I hope, is sustainability. A future where none of us have to worry about what type of diminished planet we´re bequeathing to our grandkids.

Pete Fehrenbach is managing editor of Waste News. Past installments of this column are collected in the Inbox archive.

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